Israel orders house demolitions in Jerusalem, prompting local Palestinians to 'build tents'

Israel orders house demolitions in Jerusalem, prompting local Palestinians to 'build tents'
Several families in East Jerusalem are at risk of homelessness following the latest demolition orders by Israeli authorities.
2 min read
Palestinians protesting demolition orders [Getty]
Several Palestinian families are in danger of being made homeless following new demolition orders in East Jerusalem's Silwan neighbourhood.

Residents of Al-Bustan were served with demolition orders by the Israeli municipality in December, and in the absence of a home, families risk becoming homeless and having to live in tents.

Fakhri Abu Diab is one such person served with an order – which, if carried out would cost some $30,000.

He had built his property without permission, as he was denied four times since applying in 1987.

The Israeli authorities regularly tear down homes built by Palestinians on their own lands in East Jerusalem and the West Bank if they were built without construction permits.

However according to a UN study, such permits are "virtually impossible" to obtain, resulting in a housing shortage.

Diab says: "[If I lose my home] I have no alternative at the moment but to put up a tent."

Twenty-one demolition orders were issued in Al-Bustan in December. In 2020, the UN recorded 170 demolitions in East Jerusalem, and 644 in Area C of the West Bank.

This is the second-highest number of demolitions after 2016 since the UN’s first records.

Israeli authorities have stepped up their campaign of demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territories, with Silwan and East Jerusalem a particular hotspot for evictions of Palestinian residents and expansion of Israeli settlements.

The razing of Palestinian homes has been at a four-year high between March and August 2020 in spite of coronavirus restrictions and health risks, the UN said last week.

"The period from March to August 2020 saw the demolition or confiscation of 389 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, on average, 65 per month, the highest average destruction rate in four years," the UN humanitarian affairs office (UNOCHA) said.

"Sadly, demolitions during the period March-August 2020 left 442 Palestinians homeless, further exposing many to risks associated with the pandemic."

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