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Israeli forces demolish Palestinian building in occupied East Jerusalem

Aug. 15, 2017 10:06 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 15, 2017 9:40 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces demolished a two-story building in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya on Tuesday.

Locals told Ma'an that Israeli police forces and crews from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality, accompanied by bulldozers, stormed and surrounded the neighborhood early Tuesday morning.

The bulldozers demolished a building containing shops on the ground level, and apartments on the second story.

Sources added that the apartments were being inhabited by Palestinian families, though it remained unclear how many people were displaced as a result of the demolition.

According to locals, the building was constructed 10 years ago, and belonged to Abdullah Hamdan.

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma'an on Tuesday afternoon that the building had been demolished for being built "in flagrant violation of building and zoning codes," adding that Israeli courts had rejected the homeowners' appeals.

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 in recent months, particularly after Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat threatened 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 of July 31, 96 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year, displacing at least 166 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.

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