A view of Silwan neighborhood to the south of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem. (MaanImages/Killian Redden/File
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israel’s Jerusalem municipality demolished Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Wednesday, under the pretext that they lacked Israeli-issued building permits,
according to local organization the Wadi Hilweh Information Center.
The center said that municipality crew accompanied by Israeli police forces destroyed three containers and a steel structure belonging to the Siyam family in the Ein al-Luza neighborhood of Silwan. The structures were being used for agricultural purposes.
Locals sources said that parts of a store -- measuring some 10 square meters -- belonging to the Abu Hadwan family were also demolished in the area.
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality wrote on Thursday that "the Municipality executed court orders to enforce zoning and safety regulations by dismantling illegal structures, which were made from lightweight, hazardous materials."
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 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.
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.
At least 1,569 Palestinians have been displaced since the beginning of 2016 -- including 239 in East Jerusalem -- as a result of demolitions in the occupied territory, compared to 757 Palestinians displaced over the entirety of 2015, according to UN documentation.