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Israeli authorities demolish Palestinian-owned building in Issawiya

July 11, 2017 10:51 A.M. (Updated: July 12, 2017 11:11 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces demolished a four-story, under-construction building in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya on Tuesday morning, despite its Palestinian landowner having a schedule meeting with Israeli authorities to postpone the demolition.

Owner of the building Hanan Mahmoud told Ma’an that she and her family were caught by surprise when four bulldozers escorted by armed Israeli forces stormed the area at around 4 a.m. and began razing the building to the ground.

Construction of the four-floor building -- comprised of six apartments, with the ground floor planned to be used as shops -- started about a year ago.

Member of Issawiya's follow-up committee Muhammad Abu al-Hummus said the Mahmoud family had repeatedly tried to obtain a construction license from the municipality, but the municipality refused as "it insists on displacing our residents by demolishing their houses," he said.

Mahmoud said she had a scheduled meeting with the municipality later Tuesday morning to postpone the demolition order.

Meanwhile, Abu al-Hummus explained that residents of Issawiya have also tried to submit master plans for the neighborhood in order to obtain the municipality’s approval for the natural expansion of the community, “but the Israeli municipality always rejects the plans,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality could not immediately be reached for comment on the case.

Construction licenses are very expensive and difficult to obtain for Palestinians, notably in the Jerusalem area, in a bid by Israeli authorities to force Palestinians out and change the demographic balance of the city.

While Palestinians frequently take their cases to Israeli courts after Israeli land confiscation and home demolition notices are ordered, they seldom win their cases in courts.

Thirty-three percent of all Palestinian homes in the occupied city lack Israeli-issued building permits, potentially placing at least 93,100 residents at risk of displacement, the United Nations reported in 2012.

Only 14 percent of East Jerusalem land is zoned for Palestinian residential construction, while one-third of Palestinian land has been confiscated since 1967 to build illegal Jewish-only settlements, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

According to UNOCHA, Israel demolished a record 1,093 structures in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2016, including 190 in East Jerusalem, displacing 1,601 Palestinians. They were the highest West Bank demolition and displacement figures ever recorded, at least since OCHA started recording them in 2009.
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