By Palestine Chronicle Staff
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has published a report detailing Israel’s house demolitions in Jerusalem, which targets the Palestinian presence in the city. These measures, the report noted, aim to create a Jewish majority in the city at the expense of Palestinians. “A variety of measures are used by Israel to achieve this goal, ranging from physically isolating East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank through the annexation wall, over revoking residency permits of Palestinians staying abroad and financially disadvantaging the east over the west, to demolishing houses of Palestinian residents,” the report noted.
PCHR stressed that Israel claims that house demolitions take place because of Palestinian building without obtaining a permit, which became nearly impossible to obtain. In other cases, the houses of Palestinian who carry out attacks against Israel get demolished, while the houses of Israelis who carry out attacks against Palestinians remain untouched. “I am now talking as a father and not as a lawyer”, PCHR quoted Mohammed Allain, a 62-year old resident of East Jerusalem and a lawyer, as saying.
PCHR noted that on October 15, 2015 Mohammed’s 22-year old son, Bahaa, who was an artist and a popular youth activist in East Jerusalem, went missing. When the Israeli police ordered Mohammed to the station the day after, the father was informed that his son had tried to attack Israeli soldiers, in reaction to which he had been killed. “I did not believe that my son would do that and I wanted to see proof for the attack, but the Israelis did not provide me with any. I also demanded to see my dead son’s body, but the Israeli police refused. They punished us parents in the worst possible way by leaving us in doubt about the whereabouts of our son for 10 months.”
— PCHR (@pchrgaza) April 30, 2017
“10 days after the Israeli police informed us about Bahaa’s death, we received a command under Emergency Law Nr. 17 to destroy our house,” Mohammed explained. The family was given three days to object the command, which would make 8 people homeless, in the Israeli military courts.
The objection did not change the decision and when Mohammed reached out to the Israeli Supreme Court, claiming that the house demolition would be a collective punishment violating international law, the Supreme Court decided in favor of the demolition in December 2015.
Only a few days later, the family’s house was completely destroyed and their residents forced to sleep in a tent in front of their former home, during wintertime, PCHR noted.
“We are not allowed to rebuild and the Israeli police regularly monitors that we don’t do so. I had to rent an apartment for 1,200 USD per month and I don’t feel at home in the new house. The Israelis took my son and they took my home with all the memories I kept in it,” Mohammed said.
The Allain family’s house demolition case is one of many, as 25 houses of Palestinians were demolished in 2016 only, 7 of which were in occupied East Jerusalem. In other house demolition cases, Israel blames the Palestinian residents for not having acquired a building permit. This is despite the fact that the Israeli authorities impose high restrictions and obstacles on Palestinians regarding building permits, while encouraging settlement expansion in the same areas.
In a context of high population growth and no governmental support, many Palestinians are forced to build new houses or attach structures to present buildings to cover the growing family’s basic needs, PCHR concluded.