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Israeli authorities demolish 3 buildings in East Jerusalem neighborhood

Feb. 14, 2017 2:27 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 15, 2017 11:53 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities demolished at least three houses, two of which were under construction, in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya on Tuesday, local sources said.

Homeowner Salih Turk told Ma’an that a large number of Israeli police officers, including special forces, stormed his home in the neighborhood on Tuesday morning and forcibly evacuated his family, “preventing us from taking our belongings.”

Bulldozers then demolished the house, Turk said, adding that 11 family members, including six minors, were left homeless by the demolition.

Turk said that the Jerusalem municipality had postponed the demolition a year ago to Feb. 8, and fined him 25,000 shekels ($6,680), which he was still paying off.

Turk said that neither him nor his lawyer had been informed of the planned date of the demolition.

Meanwhile, local popular committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus told Ma’an that two houses under construction were demolished in the al-Kharuba area of Issawiya that same morning.

According to Abu al-Hummus, Israeli authorities demolished the buildings for being built without licenses from Israel's Jerusalem municipality.

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Israeli authorities have stepped up issuing demolition warrants for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, particularly after Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat warned that the demolition of the illegal Israeli outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank would be met with the mass demolition of Palestinian homes lacking the nearly impossible to obtain Israeli-issued building permits.

According to UN documentation, 14 Palestinian-owned structures had been demolished by Israel this year in East Jerusalem as of Feb. 6. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.

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) 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.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has also pledged to lift all restrictions on settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem, while more than 6,000 housing units have been approved for construction in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the beginning of 2017.

In addition to land seizures and home demolitions, the crackdown on Palestinian Jerusalemites has also seen the escalation of violent night raids by Israeli police, carried out in breach of protocol and without proper search warrants.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.
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