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Israel levels lands, demolishes structures in East Jerusalem

Feb. 17, 2016 1:03 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 17, 2016 6:52 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli authorities on Wednesday demolished agricultural structures and leveled land in the outskirts of al-Issawiya village in occupied East Jerusalem, locals said.

Muhammad Abu al-Hummas, a spokesperson for a local popular committee, told Ma'an that bulldozers had started leveling around five acres of land, adding that they "deliberately" ruined the dirt roads used by farmers to access their fields as well as their fences.

He said they were accompanied by Israeli police forces as well as officials from Jerusalem's municipality and the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority.

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 around 740 dunams (175 acres) of Palestinian land in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of al-Issawiya and al-Tur into Israeli parkland.

The Israeli planning council suspended the plan in September 2014 until the needs of the neighborhoods could be assessed.

However, the council, which previously approved the annexation of the 740 dunams, said approval of the plan could potentially be justified and was not fundamentally illegal.

Abu al-Hummus said the Israeli authorities were "leveling and ruining private Palestinian lands despite an Israeli court decision to freeze the settlement plans."

One of the owners of the land leveled on Wednesday, Adnan Darwish, told Ma'an that Israeli bulldozers had ruined eight dunams (two acres) of his property, uprooting a number of olive and cypress trees.

He said they had also demolished a structure used as a sheep barn belonging to Salih Abu Turk. Other landowners affected were identified as Ali Abu al-Hummus, Atif Ubeid, and Shaaban Ubeid.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has previously described Israel's plan in al-Issawiya as "part of the Israeli government's plans to create a Jewish demographic majority in the occupied city."

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.
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