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Israeli forces demolish 2 homes in Jerusalem, displacing 18 Palestinians

Jan. 4, 2017 12:31 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 4, 2017 8:24 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli bulldozers demolished Palestinian homes in the neighborhood of Shufat in occupied East Jerusalem, and delivered demolition orders in the village of Jinsafut in the Qalqiliya district of the occupied West Bank between Tuesday and Wednesday.

At 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Israeli bulldozers entered the Shufat neighborhood in northern Jerusalem and demolished two houses belong to Adnan Shweiki after evacuating the residents and some material contents inside the home, locals told Ma’an.

Shweiki said that two families lived in the houses on a rental lease, and pointed out that the demolition was carried out without any prior notice.

Israel's Jerusalem municipality had recently issued an order postponing the demolition until Jan. 1. However, the family filed another extension in an attempt to obtain Israeli-issued building permits for both houses.

Shweiki added that the houses were built 15 years ago and comprised of a total space of 300 square meters. The municipality had also imposed a total of 335,000 shekels ($86,962) worth of fines during the previous years, he said.

The houses were raided seven years ago in order to be demolished, Shweiki told Ma’an, but he was able to postpone the order, while a fine of 80,000 shekels ($20,767) was imposed for payment to municipality crews, as Palestinians are forced to cover any costs incurred by Israeli crews for preparations for demolitions and actual demolitions of Palestinian property.

Shweiki said that 18 people, including 10 children, had resided in the two now-demolished homes.

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma'an that it had "executed courts orders to dismantle an illegal structure built on area designated for a public road for the benefit of local residents."

Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the village of Jinsafut in eastern Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank on Tuesday and delivered demolition orders for several steel structures.

The notices said that the structures, belonging to Majid Sukkar and Abd al-Fattah Bashir, lacked Israeli-issued building licenses.

A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, was unavailable to immediately comment on the demolition orders in Qalqiliya.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, although the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory are more easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties.

Nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C -- the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control -- are denied by the Israeli authorities, forcing communities to build illegally. Meanwhile in East Jerusalem, the high costs of obtaining Israeli building licenses -- reaching up to 300,000 shekels ($79,180), coupled with soaring poverty rates among Palestinians in East Jerusalem, mean many are unable to apply for the permits.

Demolitions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem saw an unprecedented surge in 2016, as Israeli authorities demolished 1,081 Palestinian structures as of Dec. 26, in a large increase from 531 in all of 2015, according to UN documentation.

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