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Israel orders demolition of 52-year-old Palestinian building in al-Bireh

April 14, 2017 5:22 P.M. (Updated: April 15, 2017 6:04 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces delivered a demolition notice for a two-story building, comprised of four apartment units, in the central occupied West Bank city of al-Bireh, a local follow up committee said in a statement on Friday.

According to the committee, the demolition notice was delivered earlier in the week to owner of the building 82-year-old Fawaz Ali Hamdan. The structure is located just 200 meters away from the illegal Israeli Pesagot settlement, which was established on the Palestinian lands of al-Bireh.

Israeli authorities gave Hamdan a period of three days to file an appeal against the demolitions, or the building would be destroyed by Israel’s Civil Administration “despite ongoing Jewish holidays,” the order said.

However, Hamdan claimed that he has already tried to appeal the demolition multiple times, but each appeal was denied by the Civil Administration, and that he was told that the administration was on a break for the Jewish holiday Passover.

The building, according to Hamdan, was built 52 years ago, “before the existence of the Israeli occupation,” while the second story of the building was built 19 years ago. Hamdan added that the original building has a Jordanian building permit.

Hamdan called upon local and international activists to “stand by his side” against the demolition of his home, which he maintained was constructed legally.

A lawyer from the committee, Naela Attiya, commented on the demolition order, saying that “the only illegal houses that must be demolished in the area are the settlers’ houses and not the houses of the native (Palestinian) residents.”

A spokesperson from the Israeli Civil Administration was not immediately available for comment.

While Hamdan maintained the legality of his building, nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C of the West Bank -- the more than 60 percent of the occupied territory under full Israeli military and civilian control -- are denied by the Israeli authorities, forcing communities to build illegally, and placing them under the constant risk of demolitions at the hands of Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory are more easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties.

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