Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Israel of seeking to make the Palestinian natives of Occupied Jerusalem a minority in their own city by stepping up the demolition of their homes.
“[Israeli] municipal planning documents have had the stated goal of ensuring that Palestinians are a minority in the city,” HRW said in a recent report.
According to the international rights group, the UN has estimated that 90,000 Palestinians in east Jerusalem live in homes without permits.
“Many Palestinians in east Jerusalem could not obtain a building permit for their homes. Israel has zoned only about 12 percent of the land there for Palestinian residential construction, and most of the zoned area is already overcrowded. By contrast, Israel has zoned 35 percent of the land in east Jerusalem for Jewish settlement construction.”
One of those Jerusalemite homeowners is called Ashraf Fawaqa who was forced to pay 60,000 shekels (US$17,000) in fines for having built his home without a permit.
When he received the demolition order in 2017, he paid another fine of 25,000 shekels ($7,000) to obtain a delay order from an Israeli court in order for his family to have a home when his wife gave birth.
On May 4, his time ran out. At a court hearing that day, a Jerusalem district court judge ruled that the freeze on the demolition of Fawaqa’s home had expired, allowing a municipal wrecking crew to raze the house to the ground on the same day.
Under Israeli law, Fawaqa will have to pay more thousands of shekels to cover the cost of demolishing his home.
He and his family, including four children, now live in a tent pitched beside the rubble of their house.
On May 4, the Israeli occupation authorities demolished nine other Palestinian buildings in east Jerusalem. In 2016, Israeli demolitions left 254 Palestinians homeless, around half of them children. In most cases, the pretext of unlicensed construction were used to justify the demolitions.
“The international law of occupation, which applies to east Jerusalem, prohibits the destruction of property except for reasons of military necessity. For decades, Israeli officials have violated these prohibitions with impunity. Families like the Fawaqas are paying the price,” HRW stated.
(Source / 29.05.2017)