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Israel escalates Palestinian home demolitions in Jerusalem Open in fullscreen

Charlie Hoyle

Israel escalates Palestinian home demolitions in Jerusalem

Over 1,600 Palestinians were displaced by Israeli home demolitions in 2016 [AFP]

Date of publication: 7 May, 2017

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Israeli authorities have escalated the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, destroying over 66 housing units during the first four months of 2017.

Israeli authorities have escalated the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, destroying over 66 housing units during the first four months of 2017.

In 2016, Israeli demolitions reached a 10-year high in the occupied territories, with over 1,560 Palestinians displaced by the destruction of homes and agricultural structures, according to UN data.

The current pace of demolitions in 2017 is set to overtake last year's record high.

On Thursday, Israeli authorities demolished a home in the Jerusalem-area town of Sur Bahir, leaving six people homeless, Ma'an News Agency reported.

As with most demolitions, the property was destroyed under the pretext that it lacked a building permit, notoriously difficult to obtain for Palestinians.

Between 2010 and 2014, Israel's Civil Administration issued just 1.5 percent of permit requests, the UN says.

Earlier on Thursday, Israeli forces had demolished three Palestinian buildings in East Jerusalem, including a residential building in al-Tur and commercial structures in al-Issawiya.

On the same day, four homes in al-Walaja village, cut off from Jerusalem by Israel's separation wall, were also demolished for lacking building permits. The demolitions took place in an area of the village illegally annexed to East Jerusalem's expanded Israeli boundaries.

The wave of demolitions comes months after explicit threats by Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat to demolish hundreds of Palestinian homes in the city in response to the evacuation of Israeli settler outpost Amona last year.

At the time of the Supreme Court decision in December to demolish the illegal outpost, Barkat said the ruling "could have implications for similar cases in Jerusalem, where Arabs have illegally built on private or municipal land,"AFP reported.

"There should not be one law for Jews and another for Arabs," he added.

Since Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank in 1967, over 48,000 Palestinian homes and agricultural structures have been demolished in the occupied territories, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions says.

In that time, house demolitions and other Israeli policies have internally displaced at least 160,000 Palestinians, according to the group.

Most house demolitions in the West Bank take place in Area C, over 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli administrative and security control where most Israeli settlements are located.

In East Jerusalem, demolitions take place in strategic areas to create a geographic reality where Israeli sovereignty cannot be challenged and division of the city as part of the two state solution becomes impossible.

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