JEWISH SETTLERS TAKE ARAB BUILDINGS IN
By SAMAR ASSAD
JERUSALEM (AP - 6-8-98) - Jewish settlers took over two buildings in
an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem before dawn today, stringing barbed wire and setting off
angry stone-throwing clashes with Arab neighbors.
It was the latest in a series of escalating confrontations in
Jerusalem's eastern sector as both sides accuse the other of trying to grab land in the
bitterly contested city.
At least two people were injured in today's clashes, including the
top Palestinian official in Jerusalem, Faisal Husseini. He was hit in the head with a
stone and slightly hurt before police and soldiers broke up the melee.
Adding to the volatile mix, about 20 activists from the Peace Now
group arrived at the site in the Silwan neighborhood to protest the settlers' arrival.
Police dragged them away after they refused to disperse.
The 15 settlers were from the Elad group, which claims it purchased
the homes legally. Israel radio said, though, that the ownership is in contention.
"We decided tonight to fulfill our ownership of these
buildings,'' said Yehuda Mali, one of the settlers who moved in overnight. He said his
group bought the property almost 10 years ago.
In one skirmish, settlers kicked Arabs who tried to block them from
entering one of the buildings.
"I will surrender my life before I surrender my house!''
shouted Fatima Karaeen, 62, who said she has papers showing one of the houses belongs to
her Arab family.
The makeup of Jerusalem's neighborhoods is an explosive issue, with
Palestinians trying to block what they say are illegal encroachments by Jewish settlers.
Both sides are constantly jockeying for position, pending negotiations on the city's final
The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in
1967, as capital of a future state. Israel insists the city must remain undivided under
Husseini, the Palestinian official, has called for mass street
protests to block Jewish settlers, who have been stepping up activity in recent weeks.
Last month, clashes broke out after the settler group Ataret Cohanim set up sheds near the
Old City's Herod's Gate.