RAMALLAH – Israeli forces have cracked down on a Palestinian gathering in the neighborhood of Ras al-Amud in the holy city of Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem), preventing them from marking the ninth memory of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat..
“Al-Quds is an Arab-Islamic city, and we succeeded to commemorate the ninth anniversary in the main street of Silwan town in front of the Israeli forces,” Adnan Ghaith, secretary general of Fatah Movement in the town of Silwan, told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, November 12.
“Israel is trying to tell the world that it controls the city of Al-Quds, but we as Palestinians reject that.”
Late on Monday, Israeli forces raided an event at the Silwan Club in the neighborhood of Ras al-Amud to mark the memory of Arafat, evacuating Palestinians from the club and ending their celebrations.
“The Israeli forces hung an order signed by Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch to ban the memorial,” said Jawad Siyam, the director of Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Al-Quds.
Claiming the absence of a 'written' permission to hold the commemoration, Israel banned the event.
"I am ordering to prevent this ceremony in Silwan or any anywhere in Jerusalem," said the Israeli minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch.
Confined by Israel to his West Bank headquarters in Ramallah for three years after the eruption of the Palestinian intifada, an ailing Arafat collapsed in October 2004 after falling in a coma to die later on November 11 in the same year.
Last Thursday, Swiss forensic tests have revealed that Arafat was poisoned to death with radioactive polonium, raising questions about culprit and motives.
The revelation followed a documentary by Al-Jazeera television in July 2012 about Arafat’s death which raised suspicions that the Palestinian leader might have been poisoned by radioactive plutonium.
A day after crackdown on Arafat's vigil, the Israeli municipal authorities destroyed three homes of Arab families in the Beit Hanina neighborhood in occupied Al-Quds.
"Winter is coming and I have no place to go, nor does my brother," Ayman, owner of one of the demolished houses complained, told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
"We're both homeless now."
The incident was a part of Israel's 'demolition campaign' which targets Palestinian homes.
Justifying the act, Israeli municipal authorities said that the houses were built without permissions.
"Bulldozers demolished three homes belonging to me and to my brother Ayman," said Afif Castero, a house owner.
Adding salt to their wounds, house owners were compelled to pay the cost of the destruction.
“Israeli officers ordered my brother Saleh to demolish a mud-brick room or pay a fine of 200,000 Israeli shekels (roughly $57,000),” said Afif.
Last February, Jerusalem municipality demolished Castero's family home for having no building permission. Later on, the family rebuilt the three homes which were demolished today.
Palestinians have been complaining of Israel's refusal to grant Arab Jerusalemites building licenses.
“And when they build without permits, Israeli authorities slap them with enormous fines or demolish the homes,” said Ziad Hammouri, director of the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights.
“Israel wants to Judaize Al-Quds.
“They destroy the homes of the city's Arab inhabitants and withdraw their [municipal] identification cards,” Hammouri added.
Al-Quds is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam's third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel occupied the holy city in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions.
Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of the city, including systematic demolition of their homes and building settlements.
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