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Israel demolishes 2 residential caravans in East Jerusalem neighborhood

April 18, 2017 12:19 P.M. (Updated: April 19, 2017 8:18 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities demolished two Palestinian caravans used as homes in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday morning.

Locals told Ma'an that bulldozers escorted by officials from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality stormed the Khallat Abed area in Jabal al-Mukabbir under military protection and demolished the two homes.

Muhammad Amin Shqeirat, the owner of one of the structures, told Ma'an that he installed the caravan on his land about a month ago and was about to move in with his ten family members.

Israeli forces demolished Shqeirat’s home last year, forcing him to rent an apartment. Due to the high cost of living in the area, however, Shqeirat built the caravan as a cheaper and more feasible alternative for him and his family.

The owner of the second caravan that was destroyed on Tuesday, Ammar Salamah Hdedoun, told Ma’an that he was “surprised” to find his home destroyed, as neither he nor his family members were present during the demolition.

Israeli authorities had demolished Hdedoun’s home in 2009, forcing his family of seven to move into the 40-square-meter caravan in 2011.

A spokesperson for Israel’s Jerusalem municipality was not immediately available for comment.

Last month, Israeli authorities demolished the homes of two brothers in Jabal al-Mukabbir, leaving a total of 14 people -- including 10 children -- displaced as result of the demolition.

According to UN documentation, as March 20, 42 Palestinian-owned structures had been demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year because they lacked the nearly impossible to obtain building licences, displacing at least 80 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.

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 home demolitions.

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