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Israel delivers demolition warrants to Palestinian families in East Jerusalem

Sept. 12, 2017 4:54 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 13, 2017 12:58 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Inspectors from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality delivered demolition warrants to Palestinian families in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya on Tuesday, while a homeowner near the Old City has managed to delay an imminent demolition order by a few more days.

Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, representing a local follow up committee in Issawiya, told Ma'an that inspectors stormed the neighborhood under Israeli police protection and posted demolition warrants, stop-work orders, and court summonses on the walls of several structures, under the pretext that they were built without the nearly impossible-to-obtain Israeli permits.

However, Abu al-Hummus said some of the buildings that were targeted were licensed and built long ago, suggesting that inspectors were "distributing warrants haphazardly.”

He said that a warrant directed to Dirbas family was erroneously posted on a fully licensed building owned by the Mustafa family.

The warrants were mainly delivered to buildings near the entrance to Issawiya and in the center of the neighborhood. Abu al-Hummus added that the municipality inspectors took photos of several buildings and streets.

The raid came as the latest in a spate of demolition warrants delivered to Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.

Separately, a lawyer representing the Abu Farha family has managed to postpone for five days the demolition of their home in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood east of the Old City.

Muatasim Abu Farha told Ma'an that the Jerusalem magistrate's court granted the postponement on Tuesday morning, when the demolition was initially scheduled to be carried out.

He highlighted that his family started to evacuate their belongings from the two-story building on Monday night.

Since the building was built a year ago, Muatasim Abu Farha and his brother Muntasir have been trying to obtain a construction license from the Jerusalem municipality, who have refused their every attempt. Eight people live in the building.

A spokesperson for Israel’s Jerusalem municipality could not immediately be reached for comment.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which also see high approval ratings.

However, human rights groups have highlighted that due to discriminatory policies, there is not enough planning in occupied East Jerusalem according to which Palestinians can apply for a permit.

For Jewish Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem’s illegal settlements, the planning, marketing, development, and infrastructure are funded and executed by the Israeli government. By contrast, in Palestinian neighborhoods, all the burden falls on individual families to contend with a lengthy permit application that can last several years and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

According to Daniel Seidemann of the NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem, “Since 1967, the Government of Israel has directly engaged in the construction of 55,000 units for Israelis in East Jerusalem; in contrast, fewer than 600 units have been built for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the last of which were built 40 years ago. So much for (Jerusalem Mayor Nir) Barkat’s claim ‘we build for everyone.’”

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