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Israeli forces demolish Palestinian homes in Silwan

Nov. 4, 2014 10:49 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 5, 2014 10:04 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces raided the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan early Tuesday and demolished two two-story buildings, residents told Ma'an.

One building belonged to former Palestinian prisoner Khalil Abu Rajab, who told Ma'an Israeli troops and intelligence officers escorted bulldozers to the Wadi Yasoul area and proceeded to knock down the walls of the building without allowing the family to remove property.

Abu Rajab's family lived on the first floor of the building; the second floor was still being furnished. Construction on the building had only been completed five months before.

He said the demolition came without any prior notice, and that his lawyer had been trying to obtain the proper license for the building, but had not yet been successful.

Another building destroyed Tuesday belonged to Isam Ishaq Abu Sbeih, who told Ma'an he had moved into the ground floor of the house only a week ago.

Israeli forces demolished the home under the pretext that Abu Sbeih lacked the proper construction permits from the Jerusalem municipality.

The house measured 155 square meters, and Israeli forces demolished it without prior notice, he said.

Abu Sbeih used to live on the fifth floor of a residential building, but decided to build a new house where he could live on the ground floor given that one of his children is physically disabled.

Also Tuesday, Israeli municipality workers forced the family of Muhammad Jaabis, who was shot dead in August by an Israeli security guard in West Jerusalem, to demolish two animal barns they owned in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood, locals said.

Tensions have boiled in the Silwan neighborhood in recent weeks. Ten apartments were taken over by Jewish settlers in the neighborhood in the middle of the night on Oct. 20. Three weeks before, Israeli settlers took over 25 apartments in the area after secretly purchasing them.

The takeovers have been condemned by the international community, including the US.

Additionally, a Palestinian resident of the neighborhood, Muataz Hijazi, was killed Wednesday by Israeli forces who said they suspected him in the shooting of right-wing Jewish activist Yehuda Glick hours earlier.

Israel rarely grants construction permits to Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and regularly demolishes structures built without permits.

Israeli bulldozers have demolished at least 359 Palestinian structures in the West Bank so far in 2014, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

During the 1967 war, Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan, occupied it, and later annexed it in a move never recognized abroad.
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