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Israeli authorities demolish East Jerusalem building under construction

March 14, 2017 10:49 A.M. (Updated: March 14, 2017 6:24 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities demolished a building under construction in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya on Tuesday morning, a local popular committee told Ma'an.

Local committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus told Ma'an that a large number of Israeli security forces stormed Issawiya to protect bulldozers and a Jerusalem municipality crew carrying out the demolition.

The bulldozers then tore down a two-story, 250-square-meter building under construction owned by Majdi Mustafa.

Mustafa said he had only recently started to build the structure, and had not yet obtained a construction permit from the Jerusalem municipality for it.

A spokesperson from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Israeli authorities have stepped up issuing demolition warrants for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, particularly after Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat warned that the demolition of the illegal Israeli outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank would be met with the mass demolition of Palestinian homes lacking the nearly impossible to obtain Israeli-issued building permits.

Last month, Israeli authorities demolished at least three homes in Issawiya in a single day.

According to UN documentation, as March 6, 35 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year, displacing at least 80 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which also see high approval ratings.

However, testimonies collected by the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) found that the procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits were lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs could 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 costly building permits is nearly impossible, leading to only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has also pledged to lift all restrictions on settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem, while more than 6,000 housing units have been approved for construction in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the beginning of 2017.

In addition to land seizures and home demolitions, the crackdown on Palestinian Jerusalemites has also seen the escalation of violent night raids by Israeli police, carried out in breach of protocol and without proper search warrants.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass home demolitions.
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