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UN calls on Israel to halt demolitions in East Jerusalem

May 3, 2019 at 12:13 pm

Israeli forces are launching demolitions for 16 commercial shops in the Shuafat camp in occupied Jerusalem [WafaNews]

The UN today called for an immediate halt to the Israeli authorities’ destruction of Palestinian-owned property in East Jerusalem.

In a statement, Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick said: “Demolitions in East Jerusalem have increased at a staggering pace over the last month, leaving tens of Palestinians displaced and others who have lost their livelihoods overnight. This must stop.”

As of 30 April 2019, 111 Palestinian-owned structures had been destroyed in East Jerusalem in 2019, either directly by the Israeli authorities or self-demolished by their owners to avoid hefty fines, following the issuance of demolition orders for lack of building permits. Of these, 57 per cent (63 out of 111) were demolished in April.

READ: ‘Israel forced 3,000 Palestinians out of their homes in Jerusalem over 15 years,’ says B’Tselem 

On 29 April alone, the Israeli authorities demolished 31 structures in multiple neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem; this is the highest number of structures demolished in a single day in East Jerusalem since OCHA began systematically monitoring demolitions in 2009. Overall, more Palestinians were displaced in East Jerusalem in the first four months of 2019 than in all of 2018, 193 compared to 176.

“Some of the elderly refugees in Wadi Yasul who were originally displaced as a result of the 1948 conflict now face the prospect of losing their homes for the second time in their lifetime. For them and for the younger generations this cycle of loss is being perpetuated,” said Gwyn Lewis, director of West Bank Operations for UNRWA.

“As the occupying power of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israel is obligated to ensure the welfare and well-being of the local Palestinian population,” said James Heenan, head of OHCHR in the occupied Palestinian territory. “The implementation of the discriminatory Israeli zoning and planning regime cannot be invoked by Israel to justify any violation of international law.”