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Israeli forces demolish Palestinian home in Silwan

March 15, 2017 11:20 A.M. (Updated: March 15, 2017 10:52 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian home in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon without giving prior notice, under the pretext that it was built without Israeli-issued construction permits.

Witnesses told Ma'an that excavators under heavy military and police protection stormed the Ein al-Luzah area of Silwan and demolished a two-room home built of bricks and roofed with tin sheets, owned by Muhammad Abu Salih.

Muhammad's father Amin Abu Salih told Ma'an that excavators escorted by Israeli forces carried out the demolition raid without giving prior notice.

According to the family, one of the rooms was built 18 years ago, and the other was added five years ago.

A spokesperson for Israel's Jerusalem municipality could not immediately be reached 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.

Meanwhile, Israeli daily Haaretz recently reported that home demolitions targeting Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem had risen sharply since the start of 2017, alleging that as a result of the election of Donald Trump as US president, the Israeli government has "lifted restrictions" on demolitions, which had already reached a record high in 2016.

Silwan in particular has seen an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families. The area has also come under heightened presence of Israeli military forces in recent months.

Last month, a Palestinian family of 13 was displaced after they were forced to demolish their own home in Silwan in compliance with orders from Israel's Jerusalem municipality.

At the time, owner of the building Hajj Salih Shweiki commented on the unprecedented surge of Israeli-enforced demolitions of Palestinian structures, saying that "Israeli occupation authorities have been targeting Silwan in particular, turning a deaf ear to all international laws."

Fakhri Abu Diab, a spokesman for a local committee aiming to defend Palestinian properties in Silwan, had told Ma’an that "Israeli occupation institutions have launched an unprecedented attack against Silwan in the form of land confiscations, demolitions, and other methods, in order to apply pressure on its indigenous residents to coerce them to leave their town that abuts the Old City and Al-Aqsa Mosque, to pave the way for settlers to replace them."

Silwan residents -- like most Palestinians in Jerusalem -- have long engaged in efforts to prevent their displacement by the Israeli government, which has aimed to establish a Jewish majority since Israel first illegally occupied East Jerusalem in 1967.

According to UN documentation, as of March 6, 35 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year, displacing at least 80 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.
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