Israel demolishes Palestinian home in East Jerusalem's Silwan, leaving two families homeless
Israeli police stormed Bir Ayoub neighbourhood and cordoned a building off, preventing anyone from approaching it, locals told the Palestinian Authority's official news agency, Wafa.
The owners of the two-story building were identified as Remah Odeh and his brother, Ali. Twelve members of the family live in the building.
Israeli officers ordered the two families to empty the homes before the bulldozers moved in and left them homeless.
Dozens of homes are under threat of demolition in Silwan with a plan of turning the neighbourhood into a biblical park.
Claiming that Palestinian buildings there are "illegally constructed", Israel regularly demolishes Palestinian homes while expanding Israeli settler units in East Jerusalem, considered illegal under international law.
Refusing permits essentially denies Palestinians rights to their homes in the occupied territory.
Not having a permit puts Palestinians at risk of eviction and in some cases being forced to destroy their own homes and businesses.
The building permits are charged at extortionate prices and are often unaffordable for most Palestinian Jerusalemites.
Activists say this creates a legal loophole for Israel to annex more land, leaving Palestinians in limbo by preventing them from developing their homes and communities.
Four out of five Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, and applying for building permits comes with various taxes and fees amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.
Between 2010 and 2014, only 1.5 percent of all Palestinian building permit applications across the occupied West Bank were approved by Israel, according to the UN.
The cost of a permit for a single home is estimated to be in the region of $30,000.
#SaveSilwan in the face of demolitions
Residents have urged international solidarity to pressure Israel to halt the demolitions.
The #SaveSilwan hashtag has been trending on social media.
Israeli courts have dismissed documents dating to Ottoman times presented by Palestinian families showing ownership of homes in Batn Al-Hawa, which is also part of East Jerusalem’s Silwan district.
Rights groups, including Amnesty International, have demanded the evictions in Silwan be stopped.
Israel came under strong criticism this year during the attempted expulsion of residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.