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Israeli bulldozers demolish apartment building north of Jerusalem

Oct. 29, 2013 10:39 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 30, 2013 9:20 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces demolished an apartment building in Beit Hanina village north of Jerusalem early Tuesday morning, officials said.

Saeed Shwaiki, a member of the political bureau of the Palestinian Arab Front, told Ma'an that Israeli bulldozers demolished a house belonging to his cousin Rushdi Shwaidi in al-Ashqariya neighborhood of Beit Hanina.

Israeli forces surrounded the house at 4 a.m. and forced the family members to get out of the house during the demolition process. Dozens of residents gathered around the house, but were unable to prevent the house demolition or to stop the bulldozers.

Israeli forces also detained the owner of the residential building, Hajj Amin Shwaiki, Saeed Shwaiki added.

The residential building consists of four floors and four apartments. Each apartment is 180 square meters, and the building houses around 20 people in total, including women and children.

Israeli forces claimed that the structure was unlicensed.

The building was built 10 years ago, and the owner has previously tried to obtain a license for the building during the past few years, but was reportedly rebuffed repeatedly by authorities.

Israel has destroyed more than 500 Palestinian properties in the West Bank and mostly East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year, displacing 862 people, according to UNOCHA.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures since occupying the West Bank in 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Israeli has designated most of the West Bank as "agricultural land" and most of East Jerusalem as "open green space," so Palestinians can own land but not build on it. Israeli commissions, however, regularly rezone the land for requests to build Jewish settlements.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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