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Jerusalem store owner demolish own shop to avoid Israeli fines

Nov. 14, 2017 5:04 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 17, 2017 6:56 P.M.)
An Israeli soldier stands as a bulldozer pulls down the house of a Palestinian family near the West Bank town of Hebron on January 20, 2015. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian store owner was forced to demolish his own shop in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, after Israel issued an order and demolition fee against the shop under the pretext that it was built without a nearly impossible-to-obtain building permit.

The Wadi Hilweh Information center, based in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, reported that Amin Abbasi was told by Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality two weeks ago that if he did not demolish his shop within 30 days, crews from the municipality would carry out the demolition and force him to pay for the costs, which typically are extremely high.

The center said that the shop was built two years ago.

Abbasi’s demolition was the second recorded self-demolition to take place in Silwan in 48 hours, after a Palestinian from the neighborhood destroyed his own home on Sunday for the same reasons, leaving his family of four homeless.

A spokesman of a Silwan-based committee formed to fight demolitions, Fakhri Abu Diab, previously told Ma’an that all 100 residential structures in the al-Bustan area are slated for demolition, and that the 1,570 residents of the area have exhausted all legal options.

The residents of al-Bustan have been embroiled in a decades-long battle that began in the 1970s after the Israeli government embarked on a plan to build a national park in the area, with the city's master plan defining the area as an open space where construction was prohibited, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

Due to the designation, residents have long faced great difficulties contending with demolition orders issued against the homes that were built there without permits -- mostly in the 1980s -- due to the increasing population in Silwan.

The municipality began issuing demolition orders and indictments to homes in al-Bustan in 2005 as part of the Israeli authorities' plan to establish the Jewish site “King David’s Garden” in Silwan and around the "Holy Basin," which includes many Christian and Muslim holy sites.

Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem that has seen an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families.

According to UN documentation, as of November 6, 119 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year, displacing at least 211 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.

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