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Israel demolishes commercial and residential structures across East Jerusalem

Nov. 9, 2016 9:43 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 10, 2016 1:45 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli bulldozers escorted by Israeli forces, demolished a car wash in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina on Wednesday for lacking Israeli-issued building permits, while also demolishing several structures across East Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The car wash, a structure consisting of three containers, was owned by two brothers, Abd al-Rauf and Abdullah Maraqa, and had been in business for four and a half years before the demolition.

Abdullah Maraqa told Ma’an that Israeli bulldozers raided the area around 3 a.m. and demolished the three containers, while also leveling land without any prior notice, adding that Israeli forces had closed down the premises and prevented the brothers from approaching the site during the demolition.

Maraqa also said that Israeli forces did not allow the brothers to evacuate their equipment still inside the car wash before the demolition took place, causing an estimated $52,438 financial loss.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Israeli bulldozers partially demolished a residential apartment in the neighborhood of al-Tur in East Jerusalem, despite the owner Mahmoud al-Hadra filing an urgent appeal to the Israeli municipal court to prevent the demolition.

Al-Hadra told Ma’an that the Israeli bulldozers only demolished a part of the apartment after the bulldozer was damaged.

According to al-Hadra, Israeli forces also ordered that he demolish a parking lot, which was built near his apartment in 2005, himself.

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma'an on Thursday that it wasn't involved in the demolitions.

The demolitions came after Israeli authorities demolished two residential buildings in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Wadi Joz and Issawiya on Tuesday morning for building without Israeli-issued licenses.

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.

Meanwhile, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat warned on Monday that any dismantlement of the illegal Israeli outpost Amona in the occupied West Bank would result in the mass demolition of Palestinian homes lacking Israeli-issued building permits in East Jerusalem.

According to AFP, the mayor was quoted as saying that the demolition of Amona -- in line with an Israeli Supreme Court ruling -- “could have implications for similar cases in Jerusalem, where Arabs have illegally built on private or municipal land.”

More than 1,383 Palestinians have been displaced since the beginning of 2016 as a result of demolitions in the occupied territory, compared to 688 Palestinians displaced over the entirety of 2015, according to UN documentation.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in Area C -- the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli security and civilian control -- and East Jerusalem, though the Israel's Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a "disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities," which they boasted "see high approval ratings."

However, testimonies collected by the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan found that the procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits were lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs could reach up to 300,000 shekels ($79,180).

As four out of five of Palestinians in East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, applying for costly building permits is nearly impossible, and only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods.
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