A Palestinian single mother of four was forced by the Israeli occupation forces to demolish her own home yesterday in the neighbourhood of Batn Al-Hawa in Silwan, occupied Jerusalem, Wafa has reported.
The Israeli-controlled municipality in Jerusalem forced Nasreen Abu Tayeh to destroy her house on the pretext that it lacked a building licence.
Building licences are rarely granted to Palestinians by the Israeli authorities, a fact attested to be the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Nevertheless, the lack of such licences is the premise used by Israel for most home demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Abu Tayeh told Wafa that she was forced to demolish the house in which she and her four children live, in order to avoid paying high demolition charges to the Israeli municipality, should it carry out the demolition process itself.
Israeli forces routinely carry out demolitions of Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem. At least one-third of all Palestinian homes in Jerusalem lack building permits, placing some 100,000 Palestinians at risk of forced displacement.
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Building licences are notoriously difficult and very expensive for Palestinians to get; they are rarely issued by the occupation authorities. With growing families, therefore, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem either have to extend their homes or build new ones without licences. This makes them subject to demolition by the Israelis.
According to the Palestinian National Information Centre, Israel has forced Palestinians living in East Jerusalem to demolish more than 1,900 homes since it occupied the city in 1967.
"The continued practice of demolitions and evictions in occupied East Jerusalem is in violation of international humanitarian law and must cease," insisted the Deputy European Union (EU) Representative Maria Velasco during a visit to Silwan earlier this year. Velasco, who visited Silwan with heads of mission and representatives from the EU and like-minded countries, also stressed that, "Israel as the occupying power has the obligation to protect the population."