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Israeli forces demolish East Jerusalem home, leaving 6 Palestinians homeless

May 5, 2017 10:36 A.M. (Updated: May 8, 2017 7:06 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Amid a spate of demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities demolished a home in the town of Sur Bahir on Thursday, leaving six Palestinians homeless.

Israeli bulldozers, escorted by crew from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality and armed Israeli forces, demolished a house Sur Bahir belonging to Ashraf Fawaqa.

Fawaqa told Ma’an that forces raided his house without prior notice, and began emptying and evacuating the house in preparation for demolition. Authorities told Fawaqa that his home would be destroyed for lacking nearly impossible to obtain construction permits.

According to Fawaqa, he had been trying to obtain licenses for his house since he built it six years ago, but no no avail, pointing out that had paid more than 200,000 shekels ($55,403) in lawyers fees over the years.

He added that while the Jerusalem municipal court and magistrate's court approved the demolition, the Israeli Supreme Court had frozen the demolition.

Despite the supreme court’s ruling, Israeli forces destroyed Fawaqa’s 100-square-meter house, leaving him, his wife, and their four children -- the eldest of whom is eight years old -- homeless.

A spokesperson from the Jerusalem municipality was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier on Thursday, Israeli forces demolished three Palestinian buildings, also for lacking construction permits, which Israel rarely grants Palestinians.

The Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, it receives a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which see 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.

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.

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