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Jerusalemite forced to demolish own property

Palestinians hang Palestinian flags after Israeli occupation forces demolished their houses in the Kaubar Town of Ramallah, West Bank on August 16, 2017. ( Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency )
Palestinians hang Palestinian flags after Israeli occupation forces demolished their home in the West Bank on 16 August 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

A Palestinian store owner was forced to demolish his own shop in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, after Israel issued an order to demolition the property and threatened to charge the man for the demolition.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Centre, based in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, reported that Amin Abbasi was told by Israel's Jerusalem Municipality two weeks ago that if he did not demolish his shop within 30 days, crews from the municipality would carry out the demolition and force him to pay the costs, which typically are extremely high.

Occupation authorities said this was because the property was built without the nearly impossible-to-obtain building permit.

The centre said that the shop was built two years ago.

Abbasi's demolition was the second recorded self-demolition to take place in Silwan in 48 hours, after another Palestinian destroyed his own home on Sunday for the same reasons, leaving his family of four homeless.

Read: Israel to demolish 6 Palestinian buildings in Jerusalem

A spokesman of a Silwan-based committee formed to fight demolitions, Fakhri Abu Diab, previously told Ma'an that all 100 residential structures in the Al-Bustan area are slated for demolition, and that the 1,570 residents of the area have exhausted all legal options.

The residents of Al-Bustan have been embroiled in a decades-long battle that began in the 1970s after the Israeli government embarked on a plan to build a national park in the area, with the city's master plan defining the area as an open space where construction was prohibited, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

Due to the designation, residents have long faced great difficulties contending with demolition orders issued against their homes that were built there without permits – mostly in the 1980s – due to the increasing population in Silwan.

Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem that has seen an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families.

According to UN documentation, as of 6 November, 119 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year, displacing at least 211 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.

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