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Palestinian demolishes own home in Jerusalem to avoid Israeli fines

Nov. 12, 2017 11:53 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 13, 2017 4:46 P.M.)
Photo of Abd al-Ghani Dweik's demolished home
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan was forced to destroy his own home on Saturday in order to avoid incurring a demolition fee from Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality, which was set to carry out the demolition.

According to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, Abd al-Ghani Dweik, a resident of the al-Bustan area of Silwan, said that the Israeli municipality issued a demolition order against his house, along with a demolition fee of 80,000 shekels ($22,741).

Four people were residing in the home, which was built two years ago.

A spokesman of a Silwan-based committee formed to fight demolitions, Fakhri Abu Diab, previously told Ma’an that all 100 residential structures in the al-Bustan area are slated for demolition, and that the 1,570 residents of the area have exhausted all legal options.

The residents of al-Bustan have been embroiled in a decades-long battle that began in the 1970s after the Israeli government embarked on a plan to build a national park in the area, with the city's master plan defining the area as an open space where construction was prohibited, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

Due to the designation, residents have long faced great difficulties contending with demolition orders issued against the homes that were built there without permits -- mostly in the 1980s -- due to the increasing population in Silwan.

The municipality began issuing demolition orders and indictments to homes in al-Bustan in 2005 as part of the Israeli authorities' plan to establish the Jewish site “King David’s Garden” in Silwan and around the "Holy Basin," which includes many Christian and Muslim holy sites.

Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem that has seen an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families.

According to UN documentation, as of November 6, 119 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year, displacing at least 211 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.

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