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Israeli bulldozers demolish under-construction building in Beit Hanina

Dec. 14, 2016 1:55 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 15, 2016 2:09 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli bulldozers demolished an under-construction building in the Beit Hanina neighborhood in northern occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday, witnesses told Ma’an.

Witnesses said that Israeli armed forces and bulldozers raided Beit Hanina and demolished a two-level residential building which was still under construction.

A Jerusalem municipality spokesperson told Ma’an on Thursday that it had “executed court orders to dismantle a structure that was being built illegally."
Just a day prior, Israeli Civil Administration bulldozers demolished Palestinian structures in the southeastern Jerusalem village of Sur Bahir, which also came after a space of Israeli enforced demolition last week in the occupied West Bank.

Earlier this month, two Palestinian residents of Beit Hanina were forced to demolish their own businesses upon orders by Israel’s Jerusalem municipality, to avoid paying the high fees charges by the municipality when their crews carry out the demolitions they order.

In response to last week’s demolitions, the local European Union heads of mission released a statement Wednesday condemning the incidents.

“In line with its long standing position on this issue, the EU calls upon the Israeli authorities to halt demolitions of Palestinian houses and property, in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and of denying Palestinian development.”

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 of 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 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.
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