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ISRAELI bulldozers begun tearing down dozens of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem today in an area under Palestinian Authority (PA) control.
Israel claims the 100 flats, in the Wadi al-Hummus neighbourhood of Sur Baher, violate a 2011 military order forbidding construction within a 330-yard buffer zone of the apartheid wall.
The demolition is the first time Israel has used this military order to demolish Palestinian homes in Area A — zones that are under full PA control — sparking fears it could give authorities the green light to destroy thousands more.
Ahead of the demolition, Palestinian Minister for the Walls and Settlements Waleed Assaf said that although Israel has demolished homes in Area A as a collective punishment against Palestinians who carry out attacks on Israel, this will be the first demolition in the PA-controlled area “without any security reason.”
He called the demolitions a “war crime,” adding that they violate the agreements signed with the Palestinians as well as the Geneva Convention calling for international protection of citizens under occupation.
More than 350 people will be left homeless, including father of six Ismail Obeidi who wanted to live in East Jerusalem but was unable to build there as Israel rarely gives building permits to Palestinians.
Mr Obeidi said: “I got a permit to build my house in 2004 and have spent 1,200,000 shekels (nearly £273,000) building this house.
“When this house is demolished I will have nowhere to go. Before I built it, I lived in a one room flat with my wife and children.”
Wadi al-Hummus Committee leader Hamada Hamada said: “We think they [the Israeli government] want this area to be empty so they can expand their settlements here in this area to close the Palestinian lands and separate them from Jerusalem. The aim is just to make it an empty area.
“Most of them are families living in these buildings. They don’t have the money, they don’t have another land to go to, they don’t have the ability to do that. They will live on the destroyed buildings.”
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that the building “constitutes a severe security threat and can provide cover to suicide bombers and other terrorists hiding among the civilian population.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh described the demolitions as “grave aggression.”
Israel has demolished around 63 housing units in the first half of this year compared to 37 during the same period last year, according to advocacy group Ir Amim.
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