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Israeli forces demolish Palestinian homes in Jabal al-Mukabbir, Silwan

July 12, 2017 3:38 P.M. (Updated: July 13, 2017 12:33 P.M.)
Israeli forces carry out demolitions in the Palestinian community of Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces targeted Palestinian-owned buildings in occupied East Jerusalem with demolitions for the second day in a row, under the pretext that the structures lacked the nearly impossible to obtain construction permits from Israeli authorities.

Locals told Ma’an that Israel’s Jerusalem municipality enforced the demolition of three buildings, which included two homes, in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Jabal al-Mukabbir and Silwan. Amid the tense atmosphere in Silwan, Israeli forces reportedly assaulted a local youth during the demolition.

In Jabal al-Mukabbir, Musa Obidat told Ma’an that Israeli bulldozers raided the neighborhood around dawn time and razed his house to the ground for being built without a permit.

Obidat noted that he was away from his home when the demolition was carried out, and was informed by his neighbors of the raid. When he attempted to return to the house, Israeli forces prevented him from accessing the area and imposed a complete siege around the premises.

According to Obidat, the house was built in 2012 and expanded in 2016 to become 200 square meters. He said that his wife and three children were forced to leave the house after he received a demolition order five months ago.

The homeowner highlighted that he had tried to obtain a permit for the building and pay the Israeli fines, but the municipality rejected all of his attempts and carried on with the demolition.
Israeli forces carry out demolitions in the Palestinian community of Silwan

Separately, in the Bir Ayoub area of Silwan, Israeli bulldozers escorted by armed Israeli forces raided the area in the early morning hours and proceeded to demolish a house owned by Salih Shweiki for the second time, after he was forced to demolish it himself in February.

When he received a demolition order in February, Shweiki told Ma'an that his family chose to carry out the demolition themselves to avoid the huge fees imposed when municipality crews perform demolitions. The municipality would have charged 80,000 shekels (approximately $21,600) for the demolition, according to Shweiki.

Since the self-demolition, Shweiki, left with no alternative, carried out renovations to provide shelter for himself, his wife, and his son, who will get married next month and also needs a house to live in, he said.

Meanwhile, Israeli bulldozers demolished a car wash and its office in Bir Ayoub area, locals told Ma’an, saying that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets at a youth in the area, who was then physically assaulted and detained. An Israeli police spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

The incidents came a day after Israeli forces demolished a four-story, under-construction building in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, despite its Palestinian landowner having a schedule meeting with Israeli authorities to postpone the demolition.

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality did not respond to Ma’an’s requests for comment on any of the cases.

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 court.

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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