The demolition was completely unexpected. The owner was paying off a 250 thousand-shekel fine in an attempt to save his building.
Dozens of Israeli police directed by the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem invaded al-Eesawiyya village in East Jerusalem on Tuesday morning to demolish a three-story apartment building. The building housed 17 people and was owned by Jamal Elayyan.
Prior to the demolition, Israeli forces surrounded the building from all sides, took off doors, and ordered the residents to leave their homes. Families tried to quickly take as much of their furniture and belongings as they could carry, but Israeli officers did not allow them enough time to retrieve everything. An elderly woman fainted during the process.
#عاجلجرافات الاحتلال تشرع بهدم بناية سكنية في قرية العيسويةBreaking newsOccupation's bulldozers start demolishing a residential building in the village of Esawyeh
Posted by Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan مركز معلومات وادي حلوه -سلوان on Monday, April 30, 2018
The building was built five years ago. Four families lived on the two top floors in 200 square meter apartments. The first floor included a restaurant and a clothing shop.
Palestinians attempted to resist the militarized demolition. Israeli police responded by shooting tear gas, sound bombs and rubber bullets in crowded residential areas. Photographer for Al-Jazeera Wael Salyma was wounded, while other residents were beaten and arrested.
After the demolition, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center reports that locals planted a Palestinian flag in the rubble and started raising funds to help the many people who lost their homes.
According to Elayyan, the demolition was completely unexpected. Though Israeli authorities have claimed for three years that the building lacked Israeli construction permits, Elayyan was paying off a 250 thousand-shekel fine in monthly installments with the belief that doing so would lead to licensure.
Mohammed Abu Hommos, member of the al-Eesawiyya Follow-Up Committee, stresses that the Israeli municipality consistently ignores Palestinian requests to resolve construction licensing issues. Abu Hommos explains there are many other buildings in the village suffering from similar problems and the families who live in them experience stress from the constant threat of sudden homelessness. He adds that it is clear Israeli forces want Palestinians to leave al-Eesawiyya and Jerusalem, especially in light of the fact that while Israeli authorities have such difficulty approving residential buildings for Palestinians, settlement construction is booming.
Indeed, the Israeli municipality zones only 8 – 13% of East Jerusalem for Palestinian residential construction. As a result, many East Jerusalem residents are forced to build without a construction permit to avoid overcrowding and secure basic needs. As many as 20,000 homes – or 39% of all homes in East Jerusalem – lack Israeli construction permits, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that as of April 23, 2018 there have been at least 55 house demolitions in East Jerusalem this year. OCHA also stresses that the monthly average of house demolitions for 2018 in East Jerusalem is so far higher than the same figures for both 2016 and 2017 – years during which OCHA recorded the highest rates of demolition in East Jerusalem since 2000.
Ahmad Jaradat is the Senior Project Coordinator for the Alternative Information Center (AIC).