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Unprecedented Rise in Orders to Demolish Palestinian Homes in Jerusalem

Unprecedented Rise in Orders to Demolish Palestinian Homes in Jerusalem

Thursday, 16 January, 2020 - 10:00
Demolished homes in the town of Sur Baher, near Jerusalem, in July 2019. AFP

Two Palestinians were forced on Wednesday to demolish their homes in the occupied West Bank to avoid paying exorbitant costs if the West Jerusalem municipality demolishes them.

Mousa Bashir and Ammar Nassar, from Jabal al-Mokabber neighborhood, south of occupied East Jerusalem, received demolition orders with a deadline from the West Jerusalem municipality for construction without a permit.

Both decided to take down their homes to avoid paying high fees set by the municipality if it carried out the demolition process.

Palestinians suffer to fulfill the complex procedures required by the occupation’s municipality in exchange for granting them building permits, which require years and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

The occupation’s municipality distributed on Wednesday demolition orders to facilities in al-Issawiya and Jabal al-Mukabir, on the pretext of building without a permit.

The Issawiya Follow-up Committee explained that the occupation municipality stormed the neighborhood and distributed demolition orders issued by the Municipal Court for more than five houses, and some orders come into effect after 20 days.

The orders targeted residential floors in buildings, the committee noted, adding that the municipality staff took photos for several residential installations, including houses and buildings, and targeted activists and committee members in the town.

Last year there was an increase in the number of buildings demolished.

According to the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem), Israel demolished a record number of homes in East Jerusalem in 2019, also setting a record for homes demolished by their own owners on Israel’s orders.

The number of homes Israel demolished in the rest of the West Bank, both over permit issues and as a punitive measure, also spiked in the past year, it said.

Its figures showed that Israel demolished 265 structures in East Jerusalem, including 169 housing units in 2019.

Additionally, 96 non-residential structures were demolished in East Jerusalem in the past year, 13 of them by the owners and the rest by the city.

B’Tselem pointed out that Palestinians in East Jerusalem are effectively left with no choice but to build without permits as a direct result of Israeli policy, which makes it practically impossible for them to obtain building permits.

From the beginning of 2004 until the end of 2019, the Jerusalem Municipality demolished 978 housing units in East Jerusalem, leaving 3,177 people homeless, including 1,704 minors.

In addition, from the beginning of 2012, when B'Tselem began recording demolitions of non-residential structures, to the end of 2019, the municipality demolished at least 413 such structures.

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