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Palestinian demolishes own home in East Jerusalem to avoid Israeli fines

March 18, 2018 5:10 P.M. (Updated: March 19, 2018 11:31 A.M.)
(File)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 man from occupied East Jerusalem was forced to demolish his home in the neighborhood of Silwan on Sunday, in order to avoid incurring a heavy demolition fee from the Israeli municipality, who ordered his home be destroyed under the pretext that it was built without an Israeli-issued permit.

Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that Silwan resident Ishaq Shweiki was forced to demolish his own house avoid paying fines to the municipality of up to $17000.

Wafa added that if Shweiki had left the municipality to destroy the second floor of his home, they also would have destroyed the first floor of the building which was built more than 100 years ago.

Shweiki explained that the Israeli municipality gave him 30 days to implement the decision to demolish the house under the pretext of building without permission.

Wafa added that Shweiki pointed said he built the second floor, only 50 square meters, six years ago to meet the increasing housing demands of his growing family.

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.

For Jewish Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem’s illegal settlements, the planning, marketing, development, and infrastructure are funded and executed by the Israeli government. By contrast, in Palestinian neighborhoods, all the burden falls on individual families to contend with a lengthy permit application that can last several years and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

According to Daniel Seidemann of the NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem, “Since 1967, the Government of Israel has directly engaged in the construction of 55,000 units for Israelis in East Jerusalem; in contrast, fewer than 600 units have been built for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the last of which were built 40 years ago. So much for (Jerusalem Mayor Nir) Barkat’s claim ‘we build for everyone.’”

According to UN documentation, three Palestinians were displaced and five buildings have been demolished in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year as of Jan. 29. In 2017, a total of 142 buildings were destroyed in East Jerusalem, displacing 233 Palestinians.

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