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Israeli forces demolish Palestinian home, seal off restaurant in Jerusalem area

Nov. 22, 2016 12:47 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 22, 2016 6:56 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Tuesday morning completed the demolition of a Palestinian house under construction in the al-Tur village of the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, according to the family.

Ata al-Hadra told Ma’an that Israeli bulldozers had begun to demolish the house, which belongs to his brother Mahmoud, on Nov. 10, but the bulldozer broke down in the middle of the demolition.

According to al-Hadra, a bulldozer, escorted by inspectors from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality and a large number of Israeli forces, arrived on Tuesday morning and completed the demolition.

Al-Hadra pointed out that a Jerusalem municipality inspector has been “going after” his brother since he began construction on the 150-square-meter house in March, under the pretext that he had not obtained a proper Israeli-issued construction license.

The family, he added, stopped working on the house and started procedures to obtain a license.

Despite stopping construction and beginning the process of obtaining a license, the family said the Jerusalem municipality still fined them 20,000 shekels ($5,176), and ultimately demolished the home.

Separately, Israeli authorities sealed off a restaurant owned by Moussa Naim Fatafta in the Jerusalem-area village of Silwan.

According to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, Jerusalem municipality crews sealed off the restaurant over claims that Fatafta had not obtained a construction license, nor a license to run a restaurant.

As a result, four families were left without a source of income.

Demolitions of Palestinian homes 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 well exceeding the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015.

More than 1,409 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.

Last week, Israeli bulldozers demolished the foundation of a mosque in the village of Sur Bahir in Jerusalem, just a few hours after several agricultural structures were demolished in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Jabal al-Mukabbir, amid a spate of demolitions that day across the occupied Palestinian territory.

Nine Palestinian households were also left without a steady income in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina when they were forced to demolish their own commercial stores, and 12 Palestinians were left homeless when they were forced to demolish their apartments in Jabal al-Mukabbir.

Though the Israeli Jerusalem municipality has said it receives a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem 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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