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Israel demolishes three homes in occupied E. Jerusalem

Israel demolishes three homes in occupied East Jerusalem, 18 Palestinians displaced
3 min read
06 March, 2023
Critics charge that there is systematic abuse in the planning system to restrict development in Palestinian neighbourhoods and to control and limit the number of Palestinians in Jerusalem.
Israeli demolished three homes in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday 6 March 2023. Eighteen members of the Tota'ah family were displaced as result. [Ibrahim Husseini/TNA]

Israel displaced 18 Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem after demolishing three homes on Monday. 

Municipal crews and demolition machinery protected by at least two dozen police members arrived at the homes of the Tota'ah family in the Wadi el-Joz neighbourhood around 9:00 am. 

The three demolished homes were built in 2000 without a building permit and belonged to two brothers, Yehya and Hani, and their cousin Arafat. 

The homes, now ruined, stood in the valley between Jerusalem's Old City and the Mount of Olives.

Yehya, a man in his late sixties, said they've tried obtaining a building permit from the relevant authorities over the years, but their applications were repeatedly denied. 

"Injustice," said Yehya to The New Arab. "Their excuse was the plot of land is designated as a green area."

Arafat, 57, told TNA that he intends to rebuild his home. 

The Jerusalem municipality will now bill the Tota'ah's for the demolition costs. 

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Zionist militias expelled the Tota'ah's from their homes in the Qatamon neighbourhood in West Jerusalem in 1948. 

In the early years after the war of June 1967, the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality adopted a master plan for East Jerusalem whereby approximately two-thirds of the land was designated a "green zone," which means no construction would be allowed.

The designation also prohibits the use of land as a burial site.

An area with this designation is threatened with confiscation and is usually slated to become a public space. 

Critics charge that there is systematic abuse in the planning system to restrict development in Palestinian neighbourhoods and to control and limit the number of Palestinians in Jerusalem. 

Thousands of properties in occupied East Jerusalem are threatened with demolition, eviction or confiscation for various excuses. The Jerusalem municipality and the Israeli planning authorities often justify the policy by declaring an area a nature reserve or a park. 

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A few steps from the Tota'ah's homes is Nuredin's home which was partially demolished in 2015.

 A report by the Israeli NGO Ir Amim shows Nurredin's house to be part of an Israeli project that includes land owned by the church and other private owners, extending from the Old City walls down towards the Mount of Olives.

Recently the Jerusalem municipality, under the guise of developing the infrastructure in the area, has nearly surrounded Nuredin's home with a concrete wall. 

Nouredin says the Jerusalem Municipality wants to make his home unlivable, so he'll abandon it. 

Today's demolitions put Nouredin, his wife and three children in a more precarious situation, and they may soon find themselves without a home. 

According to B'tselem, the Israeli centre for human rights in the occupied territories, 60 structures belonging to Palestinians were demolished in January 2023. The demolition orders came from the Jerusalem municipality, the Ministry of Interior and Civil Administration orders. 

The destroyed structures included 15 homes. Eight of them were demolished by the owners on the authorities' instructions. Fifty-five Palestinians, including 24 minors, lost their homes as a result. 

B'tselem accuses Israel of implementing a policy that serves the "Jewish public only and to "cement Jewish supremacy."