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Israeli forces demolish 4 structures in East Jerusalem's Issawiya

July 26, 2016 12:39 P.M. (Updated: July 27, 2016 2:57 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli special forces, police, municipality crews, and bulldozers raided the village of Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem around 4 a.m. Tuesday, and demolished four structures, according to locals.

Claiming that they lacked the proper Israeli-issued construction licenses, Israeli forces demolished a house under construction, a car repair garage and two walls in the village.

A member of a follow-up committee in the village, Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, said that the house under construction belonged to Salah Abd al-Nabi Mahmoud, the car repair shop to Haitham Mustafa, and the two walls belonged to the Mustafa and Bujeh families.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory said in a statement later on Tuesday that initial reports emerged of another demolition in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood of East Jerusalem, without providing further details.

In response to a request for comment, a Jerusalem municipality spokesperson confirmed the demolition in Ras al-Amud on the grounds that the structure was "illegally constructed," adding that "No permits were requested for the structures, nor would such permits be granted as the area in question is designated for a road that will serve the neighborhood's residents."

Shortly after the demolitions, the Jerusalem City Hall’s Local Planning and Building Committee approved a new policy for the Municipality Planning Department that allows for significantly more building rights for the construction of residential, business, and hotel units along the city's light rail, The Jerusalem Post reported, adding that it was "unclear if, or how many, Palestinian building permits will be approved in the municipality’s plan."

Only 14 percent of East Jerusalem land is zoned for Palestinian residential construction, while one-third of Palestinian land has been confiscated since 1967 to build illegal Jewish-only settlements, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

Israel's home demolition policy has been widely condemned by the international community as collective punishment, executed in direct violation of international law.

Official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on what they termed a "demolition campaign" in Issawiya in May, when Israeli forces destroyed several structures and razed lands.

Palestinians' ability to build homes or expand existing structures legally is severely limited by the Jerusalem municipality, and more than 3,000 Palestinian structures have been demolished since 1967, according the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Nearly 579 homes have been destroyed in the city over the last twelve years, leaving 2,218 Palestinians homeless in total, Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reported.

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