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Israeli Jerusalem municipality demolishes structures in Palestinian neighborhoods

Nov. 29, 2016 7:09 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 30, 2016 6:18 P.M.)
Demolitions in Khirbet Tana on April 7, 2016. (Credit: UNOCHA)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces demolished two Palestinian structures in neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank’s Jerusalem district on Tuesday, according to a spokesperson from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality.

In the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood, Israeli municipality forces demolished an “illegal structure” which was “built with unsuitable materials on land designated for public open space,” the spokesperson told Ma’an.

It remained unclear exactly what kind of structure was demolished.

In Silwan, the municipality confirmed that they “executed court orders to dismantle an illegal extension” to a Palestinian family’s home.

The spokesperson highlighted that despite multiple discussions between municipality officials and the homeowners, who requested that they self-demolish the extension so as to avoid incurring a customary demolition fee from the municipality, the municipality refused their request and demolished the extension.

It remained unclear why the municipality refused the family’s request to demolish their own home.

“The municipality will continue to enforce the law equally, in all parts of the city, preserving public areas and ensuring accessibility for the benefit of all residents," the spokesperson added.

Demolitions of Palestinian structures and 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 forces demolished a Palestinian home that was under construction, and sealed off restaurant in the Jerusalem area, leaving four families without a source of income.

Earlier this month, 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 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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