The pace of home demolitions by Israeli authorities in occupied East Jerusalem has “surged” in 2019 compared with previous years, reported Al-Monitor.
Palestinian governor Adnan Ghaith – himself a frequent target of harassment by Israeli forces – told Al-Monitor that the demolition orders “are a means of repression and aim to change the demographic reality in favour of the [Israeli] settlers”.
“Israel has indulged in issuing demolition orders in Jerusalem, taking advantage of the US green light, which began with [US President Donald] Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. [US Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo’s statement that settlements do not violate international law made things worse.”
Citing statistics collected by Israeli rights NGO B’Tselem, the report noted that at least 269 Palestinians have lost their homes in the city (up until mid-November), including 149 children.
“Israel has demolished 155 homes since the beginning of 2019 until the end of October 2019,” said B’Tselem spokesperson Kareem Jubran, “including 37 houses whose owners were forced to demolish them with their own hands to avoid paying the costs of the demolition.”
These costs range from 100,000 to 150,000 shekels [$29,000 to $43,300].
Jubran said that B’Tselem expects Israel’s demolitions of Palestinian structures to continue to increase over coming months and years.
“This is especially true after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statements Nov. 18 that Israel’s settlements do not violate international law,” he said.
“The demolitions create bad humanitarian conditions for the Jerusalemite families, who use all their financial savings to build a house. These families see their houses brought to the ground in moments, and they end up homeless.”
According to Ghaith, “around 20,000 homes in Jerusalem face demolition orders that may be executed at any moment”, while “Palestinians in Jerusalem need about 25,000 new housing units.”