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Israeli authorities demolish 3 structures in Jerusalem district amid spate of demolitions

Nov. 15, 2016 11:36 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 15, 2016 6:41 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities demolished three agricultural structures in the Jerusalem district neighborhoods of Silwan and Jabal al-Mukabbir on Tuesday morning, according to witnesses.

Alaa Shweiki, a resident of the al-Thuri area in Silwan, told Ma’an Israeli police and Jerusalem municipality inspectors stormed the area around his home and escorted bulldozers onto his property.

The bulldozers then demolished one structure roofed with steel tubes and tin sheets that he uses as horse stable, as well as a shack he uses to store agricultural equipment.

The structures, Shweiki said, were built five years ago. He added that he had paid a fine of 40,000 shekels ($10,423) to Israel’s Jerusalem municipality two years ago for not having obtained a proper construction license.

In Jabal al-Mukabbir, witnesses said bulldozers arrived under heavy military protection and demolished a structure roofed with steel tubes and tin sheets, reportedly built without a license issued by the Jerusalem municipality.

Story continues below.

Tuesday morning’s demolitions came a day after nine Palestinian households were left without a steady income when they were forced to demolish their own commercial stores.

On Sunday, 12 Palestinians were left homeless when they were forced to demolish their apartments in 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 last week 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.”

However, the Israeli Supreme Court on Monday evening dismissed a petition by the Israeli government to postpone evacuating the illegal Amona outpost, built on privately-owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, ruling that the evacuation be carried out by Dec. 25 as previously ordered by the court.

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 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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