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Israeli-enforced demolitions in Jerusalem leave scores of Palestinians homeless

Oct. 26, 2016 10:32 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 26, 2016 9:57 P.M.)
The Jaafreh family, left homeless after Israel demolishes their home
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli-enforced demolitions in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Beit Hanina and Silwan on Wednesday left at least 44 Palestinians homeless.

Three homes in the al-Ashqariya area of Beit Hanina north of Jerusalem were demolished Wednesday afternoon without prior notice, according to members of the families who were displaced as a result of the demolitions. Meanwhile in Silwan, an extended family of 30 Palestinians -- mostly children -- were displaced after the Jerusalem municipality rejected the family’s attempts to obtain building permits for nine years.

Nasser al-Rajabi, the owner of one of the houses in Beit Hanina, told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided his home and started to remove his furniture before they demolished it under the pretext that the structure lacked the necessary Israeli-issued permits.

He said eight family members, including four children, were living in the 60 square meter house.

Al-Rajabi said it was the second time the home was demolished despite the fact that he has been trying to obtain permits for the past two years.

The second home, which was owned by by Ahmad Abd al-Razaq Siyam, was demolished while Siyam was at a store nearby.

His wife Nivin told Ma’an that she attempted to reach her husband at the store after Israeli forces raided the home, but they prevented her and carried on with the demolition.

She added that Israeli forces demolished the house while most of the furniture was still inside.

Nivin and Ahmad Siyam, along with their three children, were living in the 95-square-meter house.

The home demolished in Beit Hanina on Wednesday afternoon was owned by Thaer Ismael Siyam. He told Ma’an he was preparing the house, which consisted of a trailer and two rooms, for his upcoming marriage this year.

A Jerusalem municipality spokesperson could not immediately be reached regarding the three demolitions.

Story continues below.
Demolitions in Beit Hanina

Demolitions in Beit Hanina

Demolitions in Beit Hanina

Demolitions in Beit Hanina

Separately, a multi-unit building in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan was demolished early Wednesday, leaving an extended family of 30 Palestinians -- mostly children -- homeless, after the Jerusalem municipality rejected the family’s attempts to obtain building permits for nine years.

Israeli municipality and police forces raided Silwan, which is just south of the Old City, and completely surrounded the al-Jisr area to carry out the demolition of the Jaafreh family home under the pretext that the structure lacked the required Israeli-issued permits.

Issa Jaafreh told Ma’an that Jerusalem municipality workers evacuated residents before starting the demolition.

He said that an officer had also raided the building on Tuesday to inform him that the demolition would be taking place on Wednesday.

Jaafreh added that the building was built 17 years ago, and that the first demolition order was issued against the building nine years ago.

The family has attempted to obtain licenses during this period, he said, but the municipality refused all attempts until the family was informed of the final demolition order.

The two-level building is comprised of four apartments of 125 square meters each.

Jaafreh, his mother, and his three brothers with their families lived in the building.

He said that a total of 30 members of his family were left homeless by the demolition, and most of them were children.

A video documenting the demolition was later released by the Jaafreh family.

Story continues below.

The Jaafreh family, left homeless after Israel demolishes their home
The Jaafreh family, left homeless after Israel demolishes their home
The Jaafreh family, left homeless after Israel demolishes their home
The Jaafreh family, left homeless after Israel demolishes their home

In response to a request for comment regarding the demolition in Silwan, a Jerusalem municipality spokesperson told Ma'an that the Jerusalem Zoning Authority executed a judicial order to dismantle an illegally constructed structure after appeals were rejected by the local, district, and supreme courts. The structure in question was built illegally on land that was allocated for a public park for the benefit of the local community."

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

Last year, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) slammed what it termed Israel's "systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians" in Silwan.

The PLO said that Israeli policies "in Silwan aim not only to alter the historic character of the area and to consolidate Israeli control over the Old City of Jerusalem ... but also contribute to the systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem."

Demolitions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have seen an unprecedented surge in recent months, with the number of structures demolished in the first half of 2016 already well exceeding the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015.

More than 1,293 Palestinians have been displaced since the beginning of 2016 as a result of demolitions in the occupied territory, compared to 688 Palestinians displaced over the entirety of 2015, according to UN documentation.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which also see high approval ratings.

However, testimonies collected by the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) in Silwan 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 s nearly impossible, and only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods.
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