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In video - Israeli forces begin demolition campaign in al-Walaja

Sept. 3, 2018 1:57 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 5, 2018 4:03 P.M.)
Photos by: Hisham Abu Shaqra
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces escorted several bulldozers that carried out a demolition campaign, on predawn Monday, in the al-Walaja village, west of the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Khader al-Araj, head of the al-Walaja village council, told Ma'an that Israeli forces along with bulldozers stormed the village to carry out demolitions under the pretext that the demolished homes were built without the difficult-to-obtain Israeli building permits.

Israeli bulldozers demolished a home belonging to Palestinian resident, Khaled Abu Khiyara, noting that Abu Khiyara and other residents of the planned-to-be-demolished homes received demolition orders only a few hours beforehand.

Israeli forces demolished Abu Khiyara's home several hours after an organized sit-in took place, which involved the residents staying inside the houses, in order to prevent the demolition.

Residents who participated in the sit-in were assaulted by Israeli forces as they were being removed from the home to allow the demolition to begin.

Al-Araj confirmed that violent clashes broke out between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces as they attempted prevent the demolition.

Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas bombs towards a group of Palestinian youths, resulting in a number of them suffering from injuries and tear-gas inhalation.

Al-Araj also told Ma'an that another home was demolished by its owner, Hanan al-Razzem, who received a demolition order following an Israeli court decision on Sunday, threatening her to demolish her own home herself or to pay demolition costs to Israel for carrying out the demolition instead.

The Israeli court issued a final decision to demolish four inhabited Palestinian homes in the village, two of which are left to yet be demolished in the al-Walaja village, under the pretext of being built without a permit.

The two other homes planned-to-be-demolished belong to the Palestinian families of Abu al-Tin and Hajajla.

Nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C are denied by the Israeli authorities, forcing communities to build illegally.

Meanwhile, the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory are more easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties, despite living in settlements that violate international law.

The video below shows an Israeli bulldozer carrying out the demolition:
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