UN report: 60,000 Jerusalemites at risk of their homes being demolished
Sixty Thousand Palestinians living in occupied Jerusalem are at risk of their homes being demolished by Israeli occupation authorities according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The report notes that since the occupation of east Jerusalem by Israel in 1967 it has illegally annexed it, restricted Palestinian development and confiscated over one third of its area in favour of building Israeli settlements in violation of international humanitarian law.
The report further states that “Only 13 percent of the annexed area is currently zoned by the Israeli authorities for Palestinian construction, within which Palestinians have the possibility of obtaining a building permit,” and note that much of these areas are already built-up and obtaining a permit is complicated and expensive.
Thus Palestinians are forced to build “on their land without a permit in order to meet their housing needs,” the report said emphasizing that “At least 28 percent of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem have been built in violation of Israeli zoning requirements,” which puts some 60,000 Palestinians in east Jerusalem at risk of their homes being demolished.
“According to official statistics, between 2000 and 2008 alone, the Israeli authorities demolished more than 670 Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem due to lack of permit. Of these, approximately 90 structures were demolished in 2008, displacing some 400 Palestinians,” according to the report.
Concern is expressed in the report about areas which face mass demolitions such as “Tel al Foul area in Beit Hanina, Khalet el ‘Ein in At Tur, Al Abbasiya in Ath Thuri, and Wadi Yasul between Jabal al Mukabbir and Ath Thuri,” which “affect a combined total of more than 3,600 persons.”
The report further states that this policy goes beyond east Jerusalem to include (Area C) in which Palestinian construction is severely limited.
Finally the report calls on the Israeli occupation authority to “freeze all pending demolition orders and undertake planning that will address the Palestinian housing crisis in East Jerusalem,” in addition to calling for supporting families whose homes were demolished and Palestinian communities attempting to challenge the Israeli occupation restrictions.