Israeli border police demolished on Tuesday (February 5) a two-floor building in East Jerusalem housing 24 members of an extended Palestinian family.
“They are demolishing because they say there is no permit to build, and here live around 45, old and young people, and they didn’t even give us a chance to move the clothes from the house,” said Saleh Abu Castairo, resident of the house that was demolished.
A statement from the Jerusalem Municipality said that there was a court order for the demolition of the house which was built without a permit in an open landscape area where construction is forbidden.
Israel seized Arab East Jerusalem, including the Old City, in the 1967 Middle East war. It later annexed the area and surrounding West Bank villages into a Jerusalem municipality that it declared the united and eternal capital of Israel.
There are some 300,000 Palestinians residents in East Jerusalem, representing about 35 percent of the city’s total population, but the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) said that since Israel took control of largely Arab areas it had systematically prevented their development.
One third of land in East Jerusalem was taken for the construction of Jewish neighborhoods, while only nine percent of the remaining land is legally available for housing. This has all been built on, making expansion impossible.
Israel has demolished more than 2,000 homes in East Jerusalem since 1967, with 771 being pulled down between 2000-2011. A further 1,500 demolition orders are pending execution.
ICAHD has presented the United Nations with its findings and demanded an inquiry, saying Israel targeted Palestinians by demolishing homes, revoking residency and eroding quality of life.
Meanwhile on the outskirts of Ramallah at Deir Jreer village in the West Bank, Palestinians accused Jewish settlers of vandalising vehicles and writing graffiti on an apartment building belonging to the Khamis family.
“Around 2:15 in the morning my brother was awake, he heard the sound of a vehicle that stopped in front of the house and when he walked down stairs he found the two cars were burned. Then all of us came down, we are six brothers and our children, we tried to put the fire out from the first car and we tried to put it out from the second one but it was already burned. We saw the Hebrew sentence on the wall of the house, saying that this land is for them (the settlers) and this is a cowardly job that doesn’t affect us - as Palestinians we’re used to it,” Mohamad Khamis who lives in the building said.
‘Price tag,’ the graffiti on the building reads, indicating this is yet another ‘Price Tag’ settler attack.