After demolishing three homes in East Jerusalem's Azaria, At Tur and Issawiya Tuesday, Israeli forces continued into the evening. Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality bulldozers destroyed two more Palestinian homes in At Tur and Beit Hanina.The demolitions come at the same time as the major threat to Al Aqsa Mosque. The excavations underneath the mosque have rendered the area insecure, as Israeli forces dug out tunnels linking the mosque and the Silwan neighborhood. They are also confiscating more of the Old City of East Jerusalem to build a synagogue near the Muslim holy site.


Israeli forces use the pretext of “building without a permit” to destroy Palestinian homes throughout East Jerusalem. However, much of the area, specifically the Beduoin area which was targetted  in Tuesday morning's demolitions, is being confiscated in order to expand the major Ma'ale Adumim Settlement in East Jerusalem.


Homeowner Ghadir Abu Ghalia has just lost his home on the eastern side of the holy city. “The presence of the demolition bulldozers took me by surprise. The demolition was postponed on the 15th of this month for 60,000 shekels. The police and border guards arrived to demolish the rest of the house without prior warning.”


Abu Ghalia said that Israeli bulldozers destroyed part of his house in late 2006 before he was able to buy a stop-demolition order for 40,000 shekels. He and his wife and their four children have lived in the 150 square meter three-bedroom home for six months. It cost 350,000 shekels to build.


Another house that was under construction was demolished in Beit Hanina during the afternoon, while in Issawiya the bulldozers tore through a two-apartment residential building. Twenty-four people lived in the house, most of them young children. The family engaged in fistfights with the police and demolition workers in an attempt to stop the bulldozers.


The Israelis cited “unlicensed construction,” while destroying the 300 square meter home. The family has lived there for 10 years and has the paperwork to prove that it licensed the building with the Israeli Civil Administration.


In Azaria's Ras Al Baba neighbourhood more demolitions took place on Tuesday, leading the Director of the Jerusalem Center for Economic and Social Rights, Ziad Hamori, to note that the Israeli government has intensified its procedures in the city of Jerusalem at all levels since the beginning of this year.


He added, “Home demolitions are coming rapidly, the campaign of taxation has doubled against the people of Jerusalem, in addition to further liberalizing irregularities. The aim of stepping up measures in the holy city of Jerusalem is to reduce the number of the population in order to make the majority Jewish.”


Hamori said that the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality has doubled funds allocated for home demolitions under the pretext of unlicensed construction. He warned of an escalation in home and building demolitions in the city of Jerusalem and its environs throughout the new year.