BULLDOZERS DEMOLISH an illegal Palestinian house yesterday in the West Bank village of Kalandiya between Ramallah and Jerusalem..
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Four illegally constructed Arab homes were razed on Tuesday by the IDF in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya, and 11 in the nearby village of Kalandiya in Area C of the West Bank.
The head of the Kalandiya Village Council, Muhammad al-Jouri, told Palestinian media that clashes erupted with soldiers, adding that stun grenades and tear gas canisters were utilized to disperse the rioting.
The four home demolitions in Isawiya were carried out without incident. It remains unclear whom the Jerusalem homes belonged to, or how many people were displaced.
The demolitions come amid heightened tensions in the capital, following more than 10 months of sporadic terrorist attacks that some have deemed a third intifada.
Since the beginning of 2016, the Jerusalem Municipality claims that 32 illegally built structures in east Jerusalem have been demolished, while 41 have been razed in the western portion of the capital.
Meanwhile, the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem contends that 72 Arab homes were demolished in east Jerusalem, while 113 nonresidential structures were torn down by the government.
The vast majority of the demolitions have been carried out because they were built without building permits issued by the municipality, which Arab residents claim are nearly impossible to procure.
Peace Now spokesman Eyal Raz said the demolitions will only inflame an already precarious situation.
“We’re talking about neighborhoods already suffering from lack of basic services from the government and municipality, and to go to those areas and focus on home demolitions is [not wise policy],” Raz said by phone on Tuesday.
“We know that over the last 49 years, the government has provided 55,000 plans for homes for Jewish Israelis in east Jerusalem, and at the same about 700 units have been built for Palestinians. Of course, this is unjust.”
Emphasizing that most Arab neighborhoods already have compromised infrastructure, Raz said that demolishing homes “is the last thing the government should do at the moment.”
However, according to the Jerusalem Municipality, there have been more demolitions in the western than the eastern portion of the capital over the past three years, with the overall citywide percentage of demolitions decreasing in east Jerusalem since last year.
“Contrary to the claims raised, demolitions in the eastern part of the city as a percentage of citywide zoning enforcement have decreased compared to previous years,” the municipality said.
Moreover, on Tuesday the municipality denied Palestinian and leftwing claims that any preference is shown toward Jewish residents in obtaining building permits.
“The municipality does not discriminate based on race, religion, or gender,” it said in a statement.
“The only criteria by which building plans are approved are proof-of-ownership and compliance with the city’s master plan.”