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Israeli army demolishes Palestinian house in East Jerusalem 'without warning'

Nov. 24, 2008 4:34 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 24, 2008 4:34 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Israeli military demolished a Palestinian house in the town of Al-Ezariya, in East Jerusalem on Monday morning, witnesses and international observers said.

The 130 square meter house was owned by Muhamad Mahmoud Mizia'ro. Fieldworkers with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) learned in interviews with the family that the house was completed in 2007.

The house was already fully furnished and the 11 person family was preparing to move in.

An Israeli military spokesperson told UN workers that the house was destroyed because it was built in Area C of the West Bank without a construction permit. Area C was designated in the Oslo Interim Agreement of 1995 to fall under full Israeli military control.

While the military says it issued a demolition order, the family says it saw no such document.

Nidal Mizia'ro, a member of the family, said he was aware that the structure was in Area C. He said the family chose to have the house built anyway, as it lies in an area built up with structures that had not been demolished. The family was therefore not expecting the demolition.

Moving into the new house had been a "dream" for the family, said Mizia'ro. It had cost the family 40,000 Jordanian Dinars (56,400 US dollars) to build.

The family is in possession of the Israeli identification card issued to residents of Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem. The house however lies outside the municipal boundaries of the West Jerusalem Municipality, which includes parts of occupied East Jerusalem.

Army bulldozers appeared at 6am local time to demolish the structure. Palestinian residents of the neighborhood informed the Mizia'ro family of the demolition.

The building was the sixth Palestinian house to be demolished in East Jerusalem in the last three weeks.
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