A laborer works on an apartment building under construction in the Har Homa quarter in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli bulldozers demolished an illegally constructed Arab home in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya shortly before dawn on Tuesday, officials said.
According to police, demolition crews and security personnel arrived at the home at approximately 4 a.m.
to destroy the 180 sq.-meter residence that was built 10 months ago.
The owner, Rebhi Dari, told Arab media he could not legally procure a building permit through the Jerusalem Municipality, nor afford the associated expenses for doing so, and therefore was forced to construct it without a permit so he could house his family.
“The occupation simply does not want us here. We are not welcome in our own city, Jerusalem,” Dari said in an interview with a Palestinian publication.
“They are fighting our steadfastness – that is why they ask for large amounts of cash for some paper work. Approving an application for a construction permit takes years and ends up being denied.”
Dari claimed that his family was forcibly removed from the home after receiving demolition orders 24 hours before, which resulted in rioting, though Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said no disturbances had taken place.
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Following the demolition, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) issued a statement condemning what it deemed an “ethnically motivated” forced displacement.
“The demolition of Palestinian homes and other structures resulting in forced displacement and land expropriation are politically and ethnically motivated,” the organization said Tuesday.
“The aim [of destroying Arab homes] is to limit development and confine the four million Palestinian residents of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza to small enclaves, thus effectively foreclosing any viable, contiguous Palestinian state and ensuring Israeli control and the ‘Judaization’ of the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem,” it said.
The ICAHD added that the Jerusalem Municipality also is threatening to destroy 100 more illegally built Arab homes in Isawiya.
The municipality, however, has stated repeatedly that all illegally built structures throughout the city, including in Jewish neighborhoods, are demolished regardless of if the owner is Jewish or Arab.
Still, Meretz Councilman and east Jerusalem portfolio holder Dr. Meir Margalit described the demolition as an “inhuman act.”
“It’s terrible to demolish a house,” he said by phone Tuesday. “When you demolish a home you don’t just destroy the building, you destroy the family that lives in it.”
Moreover, Margalit contended that the demolition will further implicate Israel for alleged war crimes being pursued by the Palestinian Authority at the International Criminal Court.
“I warn the Jerusalem Municipality that, just now, when the International Criminal Court in The Hague is investigating all kinds of crimes against humanity in the Israeli occupied territories – including east Jerusalem – they should know that house demolitions of civilians is a crime according to international law that the ICC will judge together with the settlements and other illegal activities.
If [the Israeli government] doesn’t want to be tried by the international court, it is better that it stop demolishing homes.”
According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, five Palestinian-owned structures have been destroyed in east Jerusalem since the beginning of the year.
In November, the IDF Home Front Command ordered the demolitions of the homes of the terrorists involved in separate attacks that took the lives of a three-month old baby and Ecuadorian national at Ammunition Hill, and three rabbis, a fellow worshiper and a Border Police officer killed in the Har Nof neighborhood.
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