Home demolition (Archive image)

Fifteen Palestinians were made homeless Saturday after they demolished their own homes under Israeli orders. Eight members of one family, and seven members of another, had to participate in their own home demolition, or face steep fines or jailtime from Israeli government forces.

The Jaabis family, in Jabal al-Mukabber neighborhood of East Jerusalem, was ordered by the Israeli government to destroy their own home by Sunday, or else the Israeli military would come and destroy it, and charge the family for the destruction.

According to Israeli authorities, the family “lacked a permit” for the home — but Israeli government forces have not issued permits for Palestinian homes in Jerusalem since 1967.

The Jaabis family had already paid multiple fines for the ‘crime’ of living in their home. Now, according to family member Ali Jaabis, they faced a cost of tens of thousands of shekels if they refused the order to destroy their home.

Jabal al Mukhaber is a neighborhood that has been identified by Israeli occupation authorities as one in which the ‘E1’ Jerusalem plan should be implemented: pushing out Palestinian landowners and replacing them with Jewish Israeli settlers. Hundreds of Palestinians in the neighborhood have faced similar situations to the Jaabis family over the past ten years, when the plan was first announced. In some cases, Israeli forces have engaged in wholesale demolition of swaths of homes in the neighborhood to displace the Palestinian homeowners and force them out.

In the second case, a Palestinian family from Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem was forced to demolish their home on Saturday as well. Silwan is another neighborhood targeted by Israeli authorities for displacement of the Palestinian population in order to settle Israeli Jewish residents in their place.

Atallah Eleiwat told reporters from the Ma’an News Agency that  he had constructed his home on land that he owned eight years ago, and has tried every avenue to get a permit from Israeli authorities, but has been denied at every attempt.

According to the latest report from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, during February 2019, at least 33 structures, a road and two major water networks were demolished in the occupied Palestinian Territories (including East Jerusalem) by Israeli forces, displacing at least 75 people- including 33 children- and affecting a further 19,830 people (according to OCHA oPT).

In the Naqab desert, southern Israel, the unrecognized Bedouin village al-ʿArāgīb,, was demolished for the 139th time, and a number of houses in Palestinian towns were demolished in the North and Centre of Israel.

All the demolitions and confiscations were carried out on grounds of lacking an Israeli-issued building permit. Most of the demolished structures supported agricultural, herding and commercial livelihoods.

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. “