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Israeli forces demolish East Jerusalem home

Jan. 3, 2011 10:56 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 4, 2011 10:49 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities on Monday demolished part of a Palestinian home in occupied East Jerusalem.

Forces bulldozed nearly 90 square meters of Nasser Yousif Seyam's home in Lafta village north of Sheikh Jarrah, leaving around 35 square meters standing, witnesses said.

The family of nine must now live in one bedroom, one lounge and a corridor.

Seyam told Ma'an a legal dispute began in 2004, when he received a demolition order which was frozen three times. The Jerusalem municipality said his license was conditional on submitting a plan for the surrounding area, which he could not afford.

"They came to the house today, which was empty except for my 10-year-old child. They removed the furniture and started demolishing."

On Wednesday, Israeli forces demolished 11 structures in the At-Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem, which authorities said were constructed without permits.

"The Municipality only takes down illegal buildings when the owners have refused to do so. In Jerusalem, like everywhere else in the world. by law, illegal structures have to be taken down," a municipality spokesman said.

However, Palestinians say it is virtually impossible to secure Israeli permission to build in East Jerusalem.

In late December, two Palestinian families destroyed their own homes in compliance with Israeli demolition orders.

Director of UNRWA Operations West Bank Barbara Shenstone said the families opted to demolish their own homes rather than wait for Jerusalem municipality to do so because a municipal demolition would cost them up to 120,000 shekels ($33,389).

"These condemnable acts have a devastating impact," Shenstone said in a statement at the time.

"While children around the world are enjoying the holiday season in their homes, these children have suffered the trauma and indignity of watching their homes destroyed in the presence of their parents. It is extremely cruel and distressing."

On 23 December, Maxwell Gaylard, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, offered his own condemnation after visiting the site of a home that had been demolished 24 hours earlier.

"The destruction of this home and the displacement of these people raises serious concerns with regard to Israel's obligations under international law," he said.

"These actions have a severe social and economic impact on the lives and welfare of Palestinians and increase their dependence on humanitarian assistance," he added.

"The government of Israel must take immediate steps to cease demolitions and evictions in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem."

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