JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces demolished a room in the al-Thawri area of the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Wednesday morning for allegedly lacking an Israeli-issued building permit.
The owner of the room, Iyah al-Zaghal, told Ma’an that Israeli forces, escorted by Israeli Jerusalem municipality officials, raided his home in the early morning, and began demolishing a 55-square-meter room which had been built six months ago.
Al-Zaghal said that his son Hussein had lived in the room and that the family was “shocked” by the demolition, noting that it was carried out without any prior notice and that the family had hired a lawyer to postpone the demolition.
A spokesperson from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality was not immediately available for comment.
Though the Israeli Jerusalem municipality has said it receives a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem compared to the Jewish population, and that Palestinian applications “see high approval ratings,” procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits are lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs can reach up to 300,000 shekels ($79,180).
As four out of five Palestinians in East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, applying for these permits is nearly impossible. As a result, only 7 percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods.
Demolitions of Palestinian structures and homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have seen an unprecedented surge this year, with the number of structures demolished in the first half of 2016 well exceeding the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015.
At least 1,569 Palestinians have been displaced since the beginning of 2016 — including 239 in East Jerusalem — as a result of demolitions in the occupied territory, compared to 757 Palestinians displaced over the entirety of 2015, according to UN documentation.