Israeli forces demolished a building in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya this morning without giving prior warning, leaving 30 Palestinians homeless, under the pretext that the building lacked the nearly impossible to obtain construction permits required.
It was the third time the building – a two-level apartment comprised of four units – was destroyed over the course of a 15-year administrative battle to legalise the structure.
Dozens of Israeli Special Forces, bulldozers and crews from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality raided Issawiya at around 04:30 and surrounded the building, owned by Khalid Nimr Mahmoud.
Witnesses said residents of the building were forced outside before they had time to remove their belongings.
Municipality crews had evacuated some of the building’s contents before bulldozers carried out the demolition on top of piles of furniture and other belongings that were ruined.
Khalid Nimr Mahmoud told Ma’an that Israel repeatedly refused to issue licences for the building, saying that he began the administrative battle to legalise his home in 2002.
Mahmoud said that sessions were held in the Jerusalem magistrate’s court in recent days to postpone the demolition, but judges ordered it to be carried out anyway and ruled against any further postponements.
He said that the municipality rejected a final appeal against the demolition yesterday, but did not give a specific date for the actual demolition.
As a result, the Mahmoud family and the others living in the building were surprised and unprepared to lose their home the following morning.
According to Mahmoud, Israeli bulldozers first demolished the building in 2002, and returned to demolish it again in 2003.
The Jerusalem resident rebuilt the home again, where he lived with his family, his daughter’s family, the family of Omar Naim Kastero, and the family of Atta Dirbas – a total of 30 individuals, including four children.
Mahmoud said that he is still paying a fine of 75,000 shekels ($20,570) for the most recent building violations, in addition to the 20,000 shekel ($5,485) fine that was imposed in 2002.
Member of a local follow-up committee Muhammad Abu Al-Hummus confirmed that the municipality has been rejecting structural maps presented by locals for the building’s expansion for 15 years.