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Israel demolishes multiple Palestinian structures in Jerusalem area

Aug. 16, 2016 3:49 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 17, 2016 12:59 P.M.)
Israeli forces carry out demolitions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir on Aug. 16, 2016.
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces demolished multiple Palestinian structures in the Jerusalem area on Tuesday, the same morning that Israeli-enforced demolitions left more than 70 Palestinians homeless in the Hebron and Bethlehem districts of the occupied West Bank.

In the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, bulldozers escorted by Israeli police officers and Jerusalem municipality inspectors demolished a single-room house and several outdoor walls, because the structures were built without licenses issued by the Jerusalem municipality.

The homeowner, Muhammad Ali Ubeidat, told Ma’an in Jerusalem that he had recently built the 40-square-meter room in the al-Salaa area of Jabal al-Mukabbir with plans to live there, but later decided to use the structure as a horse barn in the hopes that the municipality would not demolish it if no families were living inside.

Ubeidat added that outdoor walls and a gate made of steel bars belonging to his neighbor Riyad Shweiki were also demolished.

In a response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma'an that "the Jerusalem Zoning Authority dismantled an illegally constructed structure and fence in the Jabal Mukabbir neighborhood. No building permit applications were filed for the structures. Cease and desist orders were issued as early as March, since which time the owners have not exercised their right to appeal or apply for permits retroactively."
Israeli forces carry out demolition in Jabal al-Mukabbir

Meanwhile, in the Palestinian village of Anata north of Jerusalem, which is almost completely surrounded by Israel’s separation wall inside the occupied West Bank, Israeli bulldozers demolished a car dealership exhibition owned by Zakarya Moussa without giving prior notice.

Moussa told Ma’an that bulldozers of the Beit El settlement municipality were escorted by Israeli forces to demolish the dealership, in addition to two cars and a room measuring 40 square meters built of tin sheets he used as an office.

He added that the dealership had been in business for a year and employed 15 Palestinians.

Beit El municipal officers had been delivering demolition orders to many other structures in the area, Moussa noted, but confirmed to Ma’an that Israeli forces had not delivered one to him, and that the demolition came without prior notice.

Moussa added that he was not given the opportunity to evacuate his belongings from the structure, and Israeli forces demolished it with everything still inside.

A spokesperson for Israel's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which is responsible for implementing the Israeli government's policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma'an Wednesday morning via email in response to a request for comment" "Today, enforcement measures were taken against an illegal structure in Anata, which was built without the required permits. Warrants were issued prior to such enforcements measures."

The demolitions came on the same morning as more than 50 Palestinians, including children, were left homeless by Israeli demolitions in the Hebron-area village of Sair, while 20 more were displaced by demolitions in the village of Beit Jala.

Demolitions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have seen an unprecedented surge in recent months, with the number of structures demolished in the first half of 2016 already well exceeding the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015.

Palestinian communities in the East Jerusalem area -- within the municipal boundaries and also beyond the wall in the occupied West Bank -- have been targeted in particular, as the Israeli government has undertaken a policy of "Judaization" across the city, constructing Jewish settlements and demolishing Palestinian homes.

In mid July, 43 Palestinians, including 25 children, were made homeless in less than 48 hours due to Israeli demolitions in Jabal al-Mukabbir and a Bedouin refugee community in Anata, according the UN, and several demolitions have been carried out against residential and commercial structures in the Jerusalem area since.

In the same period, reports have emerged of multiple projects in various planning stages for Israeli settlements in the area amounting to hundreds of new housing units.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, although the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers are more easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties.

According to the organization Bimkom -- Planners for Planning Rights, between the years 2005-2009, only some 55% of requests for building permits in Palestinian neighborhoods were approved in East Jerusalem, compared with some 85% in the Israeli neighborhoods. In areas for which there is no outline plan, Palestinian residents do not even bother to submit a request for a building permit.

Palestinian leaders and rights groups have reiterated that settlement building only serve to exacerbate tensions for Palestinians who have lived under a military occupation for nearly 50 years, while being systematically displaced as Israeli settlements continue to encroach further onto their lands.
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