Sunday, 22 September, 2019

Israel begins demolition of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem

Demolition in Sur Baher Demolition in Sur Baher
Patty Aguilar | 22 July, 2019, 12:57

Demolition of unauthorized Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem is not unusual.

It is extremely hard for Palestinians to receive construction permits from Israeli authorities in areas under their control, and Palestinians and rights activists say a housing shortage has resulted.

Palestinians have said that the government is using the issue of security as an excuse to force them further and further from the city, expand settlements, and build roads linking the new Israeli communities.

The move was decried by Palestinians, with the office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas saying in a statement that it "places the responsibility for this grave escalation on Israel".

"What is painfully happening here is the biggest and most unsafe demolition operation outside of war operations", Walid Asaf, the Palestinian minister in charge of monitoring Israeli settlements, said in a video from the site.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan accused the Palestinians of "lies", stressing the demolition was validated by the state's top court after a lengthy process. "The court also ruled unequivocally that those who built houses in the area of the security fence knew that building in that area was prohibited, and took the law into their own hands".

Al Jazeera's Rob Matheson reports live from Wadi al-Hummus in the occupied West Bank.

On June 18, residents in Sur Baher received a 30-day notice from Israeli authorities informing them of their intent to demolish the homes.

Israeli forces cut through a wire section of the barrier in Sur Bahir under cover of darkness early on Monday, and began clearing residents from the area. And dozens of Israeli police and officials from the Israeli Civil Administration were seen scouting out the buildings.

According to local sources, there would be another 100 buildings in the area at risk of being killed.

Last week, Palestinian Authority officials took diplomats from some 20 mostly European countries on a tour of the area and urged them to pressure Israel not to carry out the demolitions.

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Ismail Abadiyeh, who lives in one of the buildings under threat with his family, said they would be left homeless. "There are hundreds of illegal structures", he told Israel's Army Radio.

"They would enter on the pretence of checking the labourers had the right paperwork and they never said it was illegal". "They are here in Palestinian territory".

"We will be on the street", he told AFP.

The United Nations joined the chorus of condemnation of the planned razing of the structures last week.

The Palestinian government said the demolitions were a breach of all agreements they signed with Israel. "Residents of East Jerusalem and adjacent areas have been particularly affected, with a significant rise in demolitions there in 2019".

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favour of the military last month, with the demolition expected to go ahead from Sunday.

Israeli forces began demolishing buildings near a military barrier in the occupied East Jerusalem on Monday, in the face of Palestinian protests and global criticism.

Sur Baher is an Arab neighborhood on the southeastern outskirts of eastern Jerusalem, located east of Ramat Rachel and northeast of Har Homa.

An global presence of ISM activists and Israeli activists will sleep in Wadi al-Hummus this evening in solidarity with the community.

Its political geography is complicated by the fact that parts of it lie outside the municipal boundaries of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem but on the Israeli side of the barrier, cutting it off from the rest of the West Bank. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the global community to immediately intervene to halt the demolitions in Sur Bahir and hold Israel to account for its repeated violations of worldwide law, the statement concluded.

The Jewish state began construction of the barrier during the bloody second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s and says it is necessary to protect against attacks.

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