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Israel demolishes Jerusalem home while family trying to demolish it

Nov. 12, 2013 10:27 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 12, 2013 12:38 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Bulldozers belonging to the Israeli municipality on Tuesday morning demolished a Palestinian family's mobile home in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of Jerusalem after the family had already begun trying to disassemble and remove it.

Afif Castero told a Ma'an reporter Tuesday morning that bulldozers escorted by a large number of Israeli forces surprised his family in the early morning and started to demolish his family's mobile homes, which he and his brother Ayman had started to disassemble Monday afternoon.

Castero's family had previously received an order for his home's demolition. However, because when the Israeli municipality demolishes a Palestinian home they force the owner to pay the cost, Castero had been trying to demolish his own home in order to avoid exorbitant fees.

Castero highlighted that his family moved to live in the trailers after Israeli bulldozers demolished the family's two-story building in February because it was built without license from the municipality.

He added that his family started the procedures to obtain a license for installing a mobile home, but the Israeli municipality turned down their application.

Their brother Salih Castero, was also handed a warrant ordering him to demolish a small structure made of brick which shelters his family or otherwise he will have to pay a fine of 200,000 shekels.

The mobile homes and the brick room were used to shelter 27 family members of Afif Castero and his brothers Ayman and Salih. According to Afif Castero, the homes and the brick room cost the family 270,000 shekels. The family also paid more than 25,000 shekels to lawyers in an attempt to obtain a license to install the trailers on the wreckage of their family house.

Afif Castero explained that he and his brothers began to disassemble their trailers Monday evening, preparing to remove them upon orders they had received from the Jerusalem municipality.

"We started to do the job ourselves," he added, "so as to avoid paying the municipality a high bill for demolition."

"But they did not give us time to finish the removal, and they will force us to pay the bill."

The family will also sustain additional loss because once mobile homes are demolished by bulldozers, they can no longer be assembled again.

Israel has destroyed more than 558 Palestinian properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year, displacing 919 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.

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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