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EU condemns demolition of shelter in East Jerusalem

March 11, 2015 9:57 A.M. (Updated: March 13, 2015 8:10 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) – The European Union denounced the move by Israeli authorities to demolish an EU-funded shelter in Palestinian East Jerusalem on Tuesday.

"We condemn today's demolition of temporary shelters funded by the European Union... as part of its response to the needs of the affected communities," an EU statement said.

EU funds have helped to pay for some 200 temporary buildings used as shelters in villages inhabited by Bedouin communities in the West Bank, just outside occupied East Jerusalem.

In addition to the shelter, Israeli forces leveled vast areas of land in the East Jerusalem town of al-Issawiya on Tuesday morning, a local committee member told Ma'an.

According to Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, member of a local follow-up committee, large numbers of Israeli troops and municipality inspectors escorted bulldozers and excavators into the southeastern outskirts of the town, where they demolished stone walls and steel structures used by local farmers as store houses and livestock barns.

Abu al-Hummus said the bulldozers "deliberately" ruined the dirt roads used by farmers to access their fields.

A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem municipality said the process was initiated by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

A spokeswoman for the authority told AFP the structures were in a national park within the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality, which had been informed of the violation and demolished the structures.

A spokesman for Regavim, a right-wing lobby group, said the move was unusual.

"This doesn't happen every day, and it certainly doesn't happen to EU buildings," the spokesman told AFP.

The land is located in an area Israeli authorities have earmarked for a national park, in a controversial plan known as "11092", which aims to turn 700 dunums of land in the Palestinian towns of al-Issawiya and al-Tur into Israeli parkland.

A statement from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in 2013 previously stated that "the plan is part of the Israeli government's plans to create a Jewish demographic majority in the occupied city."

In September 2014, an Israeli planning council suspended the plan until the needs of the Arab towns could be assessed. However, the council, which previously approved the annexation of the 700 dunums, said that approval of the plan could be justified and was not fundamentally illegal.

According to Abu al-Hummus, the local Israeli municipality has ignored the plan's suspension.

"Israeli forces brush aside court decisions and decisions made by different committees when it comes to implementing settlement expansion plans," he said.

The land leveled on Tuesday is owned by the Abu Asab, Ubeid, Dari, Abu al-Hummus and Ulayyan among others.

East Jerusalem was seized by Israel along with the West Bank in 1967 during the Six-Day War, and since then, the Israeli government has undertaken a policy of "Judaization" across the city, constructing Jewish settlements and demolishing Palestinian homes.

There are now believed to be more than 300,000 Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem.

The international community views East Jerusalem as part of the Palestinian territories and recognizes the annexation and settlement programs as illegal under international law.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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