JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – Israeli officials from the Jerusalem municipality, escorted by Israeli soldiers, raided the neighborhood of Issawiya on Thursday in occupied East Jerusalem and hanged demolition notices on several building.
According to local popular committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, Israeli municipality officials raided the area of Habayel al-Arab in the southwestern part of Issawiya, and proceeded to take pictures of the neighborhood and buildings, before they hanged demolition notices on more than six residential buildings.
Al-Hummus noted that some of the notices targeted buildings which were built after the owners had been issued Israeli building permits, making the structures “legal” under Jerusalem municipality regulations.
He also added that the buildings that had received the demolition orders were built between 10 to 30 years ago, and included more than 20 apartments belonging to residents in the neighborhood.
According to al-Hummus, the Israeli municipality has been targeting the neighborhood over recent months in an attempt to “put residents under pressure,” and adding that Israeli authorities deliberately impose various punishments on the residents of Issawiya, such as routinely delivering demolition notices, deploying Israeli forces throughout the neighborhood, and arbitrarily detaining Palestinian youths.
He also called upon human rights organizations to visit the neighborhood and meet with its residents to understand the “fierce Israeli [military] campaign” they are facing.
A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality was not immediately available to comment on the incidents.
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 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 the first half of 2016 well exceeding the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015.
At least 1,580 Palestinians have been displaced since the beginning of 2016 -- including 241 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.