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Israel increases demolition orders in Jabal al-Mukabbir in wake of truck attack

Jan. 12, 2017 3:13 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 13, 2017 4:32 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities demolished eight structures in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir on Wednesday for being built without hard-to-obtain construction permits.

According to Hebrew news sites, the eight structures included shops selling construction equipment, and were built on five dunams (1.2 acres) of land.

The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem also reportedly demolished five structures used as stockyards in Jabal al-Mukabbir on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality confirmed the demolitions to Ma’an, saying that it had been “carrying out increased enforcement in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood, including: dismantling illegal structures in public spaces, addressing illegal building in the neighborhood, mapping of illegal buildings to determine proper legal action, and inspections of outstanding payments of municipal taxes.”

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported in a statement on Wednesday that Israeli authorities had handed 40 demolition notices in Jabal al-Mukabbir since a resident of the neighborhood carried out a deadly truck-ramming attack on Sunday, killing four Israeli soldiers before being himself shot and killed.

“Such measures constitute collective punishment targeting individuals who are not charged with any wrongdoing,” B’Tselem wrote. “There can be no possible justification for these vindictive steps.”

“Imposing collective punishment in conjunction with adopting administrative measures against Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem is an acknowledged Jerusalem Municipality policy,” the group added. “While the policy is indeed an overt one, this does nothing to detract from it being a wrongful one which involves widespread persecution by the authorities of thousands of Jerusalem residents.”

Israel’s security cabinet has already ordered that the home of slain Palestinian attacker Fadi al-Qunbar in Jabal al-Mukabbir be demolished, while Israeli media reported that the Jerusalem municipality had approved plans to establish a new settlement on the site of al-Qunbar’s home.

Thirteen of al-Qunbar’s relatives will also have their Jerusalem residency status revoked, as Israeli leaders have also called for the family to be exiled to the blockaded Gaza Strip or even war-torn Syria.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which also see high approval ratings.

However, testimonies collected by the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) in Silwan found that the procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits were lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs could 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 costly building permits is nearly impossible, leading to only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods.
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