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Israeli authorities demolish 3 structures in Jerusalem

Jan. 7, 2016 6:16 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 8, 2016 4:03 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli bulldozers under army escort on Thursday demolished three Palestinian structures built without construction permits in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Beit Safafa, the owners told Ma'an.

Nadia Abu Diab said that Jerusalem municipality excavators tore down a two-story building and unfinished apartment belonging to her family in Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem.

She said the 125-square meter apartment had been under construction since September last year, and that her family had been in the process of obtaining a license. She said the Jerusalem municipality demolished the apartment without prior notice.

Separately, in Beit Safafa, a Palestinian neighborhood divided between East and West Jerusalem, Israeli bulldozers demolished part of a restaurant belonging to local resident Imad Burqan.

Burqan told Ma'an the Jerusalem municipality demolished an extension of the Mediterranean Restaurant made of tin sheets and steel bars that he had added to the building about three months ago.

Construction licenses are very expensive and difficult to obtain for Palestinians, notably in the Jerusalem area, in a bid by Israeli authorities to force Palestinians out and change the demographic balance of the city.

Silwan in particular has seen in recent years an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families.

Last year, the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department slammed what it termed Israel's "systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians" in Silwan.

The department said that Israeli policies "in Silwan aim not only to alter the historic character of the area and to consolidate Israeli control over the Old City of Jerusalem ... but also contribute to the systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem."

Some 579 homes have been destroyed in the city over the last twelve years, leaving 2,133 Palestinians homeless in total, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

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