Israel Begins to Demolish Palestinian Homes in East Jerusalem
Israeli forces began on Monday to demolish dozens of Palestinian houses in an east Jerusalem neighborhood.
The operation in one of the largest of its kind in years, the Associated Press (AP) repored.
Israel claimed the buildings were too close to its West Bank separation barrier, while residents said the buildings are on West Bank land, and the Palestinian Authority provided them with construction permits.
Following a Supreme Court decision allowing the demolitions, Israeli crews moved into the neighborhood overnight with a massive construction vehicles smashing through the roofs of several buildings, while large excavators were digging through the rubble.
The United Nations said some 20 people already living in the buildings were being displaced, while 350 owners of properties that were under construction or not yet inhabited were also affected.
According to AP, Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war. The international community considers both areas to be occupied territory, and the Palestinians seek them as parts of a future independent state.
Israel built its separation barrier in the early 2000s in a step that it says was needed to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from reaching Israel from the West Bank, however, for Palestinians the structure is an illegal land grab because it juts into the West Bank in many places.