A Palestinian was forced to demolish his own home, on Monday, in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, after receiving demolition threats from the Jerusalem municipality.
Ayman Naim Kawasbeh told Ma’an News Agency that he removed furniture and other belongings, and proceeded to demolish the home in which he had lived, along with his wife and six children, for a decade. The youngest child is three years old, while the oldest is 17.
Kawasbeh said that he received a demolition order from the Jerusalem municipality, warning that he will end up paying exorbitant fees that would amount up to 40,000 shekels ($11,035), if the municipality demolishes the house. Therefore, he decided to carry out the demolition on his own.
The demolition order was delivered to Kawasbeh under the pretext that his house was built without the difficult-to-obtain Israeli permit.
Kawasbeh mentioned that he had previously attempted to obtain an Israeli building permit and was able to delay the demolition. However, Israeli authorities did not grant him a permit and delivered a demolition order instead.
Kawasbeh stressed: “We live a real-life tragedy. Winter is around the corner and we have no home, no shelter. I don’t know what i will do in the upcoming days.”
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that, compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which also see high approval ratings.
For Jewish Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem’s illegal settlements, the planning, marketing, development, and infrastructure are funded and executed by the Israeli government. By contrast, in Palestinian neighborhoods, all the burden falls on individual families to contend with a lengthy permit application that can last several years and cost tens of thousands of dollars.
According to Daniel Seidemann of the NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem, “Since 1967, the Government of Israel has directly engaged in the construction of 55,000 units for Israelis in East Jerusalem; in contrast, fewer than 600 units have been built for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the last of which were built 40 years ago. So much for (Jerusalem Mayor Nir) Barkat’s claim ‘we build for everyone.'”
According to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory, the month of July recorded the highest number of Palestinian structures Israel has demolished or seized (54), and of Palestinian civilians displaced (97) in the occupied territories, since January 2017.
The report said that the cumulative number of structures targeted so far in 2018 (251) has remained below the figure in the equivalent period of 2017 (286). All of the incidents during July took place on grounds of lack of building permits.
OCHA added that in recent decades, Israeli settler organizations, with the support of the Israeli authorities, have taken control of properties within Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, and some 180 Palestinian families are currently facing eviction cases, filed mainly by settler organizations.