Record number of Israeli house demolitions in Jerusalem since Trump took office
The demolition of homes built without permits comes amid a major increase in Israeli settlement activity both in East Jerusalem and in the occupied West Bank since President United States President Donald Trump took office.
Read more: Israel forces Palestinian to demolish Jerusalem home that's 'too close to US embassy'
B'Tselem says 238 Palestinians have lost their homes this year, including 127 minors. The second highest number of demolitions on record was in 2016, when 92 homes were demolished.
It said commercial structures are also being demolished at the highest rate on record, with 76 dismantled so far this year, compared to 70 in all of 2018.
Israeli officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Decades of illegal occupation
Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967, committing various crimes against Palestinian civilians.
More than 600,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in constructions considered illegal under international law.
Often, Israel forces Palestinians to demolish their own homes under the pretext of not having a building permit.
Peace Now estimates that half of the 40,000 housing units built in Palestinian neighborhoods since 1967 lack permits, placing them at constant risk of demolition.
Applications for building permits are also known to take years to be processed, giving Israeli courts a loophole to increase Palestinian home demolitions by branding structures as "illegal".
Four out of five of 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.
Agencies contributed to this report.
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