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9 Palestinian households lose source of income as owners forced to demolish shops

Nov. 14, 2016 4:30 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 14, 2016 9:48 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinian residents of the Beit Hanina neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem were forced to demolish their own stores on Monday upon orders by Israel’s Jerusalem municipality.

Nidal Ghaith and Muhammad al-Najjar told Ma'an that they emptied their stores before they disassembled the roofs and demolished the walls.

Al-Najjar said his 50-square-meter store, which was used as a fruit and vegetable market, was built nine years ago, and was the main source of income for four households.

Meanwhile, Ghaith said his store was built three years ago and served as a shop for construction and sanitation material. He added that five households relied on the shop’s income.

Both al-Najjar and Ghaith’s shops were given demolition orders by the municipality for being built without proper permits.

Story continues below.

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality had previously told Ma’an that “self demolitions occur when house owners heed legal notices and court rulings and remove building code violations independently. Specific instances of residents heeding these notices are not verified in real time, therefore we cannot comment on them."

Monday’s demolitions came a day after 12 Palestinians were left homeless when they were forced to demolish their apartments in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, also in accordance with a demolition order that claimed the apartments lacked proper permits.

Demolitions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have seen an unprecedented surge this year, 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.

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.

According to the UN, the overall rate of Israeli demolitions since 2015 has exceeded every year since the UN began monitoring the practice in 2009.

Meanwhile, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat warned on Monday that any dismantlement of the illegal Israeli outpost Amona in the occupied West Bank would be followed by 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.”

A large number of Israeli demolitions are carried out due to Palestinian homeowners not obtaining Israeli-issued building permits, though Palestinians are rarely granted permits by Israeli authorities to build, forcing many to build illegally.

In occupied East Jerusalem, though the Israel's Jerusalem municipality has said that it receives a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities compared to the Jewish population, and that Palestinian applications "see high approval ratings," procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits are lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs can 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 these permits is nearly impossible. As a result, only 7 percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods.

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