JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli bulldozers demolished two Palestinian homes in Jabal al-Mukabbir in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday morning without prior notice, over the pretext that the structures lacked licenses required by Israel’s Jerusalem municipality.
The two houses belong to brothers Islam and Imam al-Abbasi. Their two families, comprised of a total of 14 people -- including 10 children -- were displaced as result of the demolition.
Witnesses told Ma’an that municipality crews and vehicles escorted by dozens of Israeli police raided the al-Salaa neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, before evacuating the al-Abbasis from their homes and proceeding to raze the buildings to the ground
Islam and Imam’s father, Moussa al-Abbasi, told Ma’an that the houses were built in 2014 and measured 160 square meters.
He said that Israeli authorities had carried out the demolition without a prior notice, as the family had presented a request to the municipality to freeze the demolition order, with no response ever received.
Moussa added that residents of the al-Salaa neighborhood had presented plans to the municipality over the past few years in an attempt to regularize a master plan for the area, to no avail.
A spokesperson for Israel’s Jerusalem municipality told Ma'an that "since the issuance of the demolition order, the case has been through all relevant legal processes, including in the Supreme Court, and has been rejected each time."
"Despite this, the illegal construction and eventual population of the structure continued, in flagrant violation of court orders," they added.
According to UN documentation, as March 20, 42 Palestinian-owned structures had been demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year because they lacked the nearly impossible to obtain building licences, displacing at least 80 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.
Israeli forces stepped up measures against Jabal al-Mukabbir once again, after an Israeli border police shot and killed a resident of the neighborhood two weeks ago, claiming the 25-year-old Palestinian carried out a stabbing attack near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City. However, witnesses and family members said 25-year-old Ibrahim Matar "was executed in cold blood."
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.