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Israeli forces demolish 3 Palestinian buildings in occupied East Jerusalem

May 4, 2017 4:57 P.M. (Updated: May 4, 2017 6:27 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities demolished three Palestinian buildings in two separate neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday morning for lacking nearly impossible to obtain construction permits, locals told Ma’an.

In the neighborhood of al-Tur, locals told Ma’an that Jerusalem municipality bulldozers escorted by large numbers of Israeli border police raided the area and demolished a two-story building under construction, which the owners said they had started working on eight months earlier to create four apartments.

The building’s owners, Khalil Abu Sneineh and Rami al-Sayyad, told Ma’an that they hadn’t received any notice informing them that the demolition would take place on Thursday.

The owners said that the Israeli Jerusalem municipality had issued a demolition order against the building for being built without a permit, and that the municipality had postponed the demolition until May in order to give them time to file an appeal.

However, Abu Sneineh and al-Sayyad had not been able to file an appeal earlier in the week due to two consecutive Israeli holidays, and said that they were taken by surprise by the fact that the demolition occurred within such short notice.

Story continues below.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Jerusalem municipality demolished two commercial structures in the neighborhood of Issawiya for reportedly being built without licenses.

Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of Issawiya’s follow-up committee, said that the 120-square-meter structures were owned by the Abu Riyala family, adding that construction had only recently finished and that the family had been finalizing preparations to use the buildings just before the demolitions.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Jerusalem municipality did not immediately respond to a request for comment on either case.

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, as April 17, 59 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year, displacing at least 135 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, although the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that, compared to the Jewish population, it receives a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which it said sees high approval rates.

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.

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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