A Palestinian boy looks on as municipality workers demolish a house in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Tzur Baher, Tuesday, October 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
Israeli authorities Wednesday morning forced two Palestinian brothers to demolish their own houses in Sur Baher village, southeast of Jerusalem, according to WAFA news agency.
Mohammad Dabash, and his brother, Bilal, overnight embarked on tearing down their houses, each of which occupying an area of 280 square meters, in order to avoid paying a fine of between ILS 100,000 and 200,000 (USD 29,000 – 59,000) should the Israeli municipality carry out the demolition itself.
He added that an Israeli court issued the demolition order on July 27, and the Dabash brothers were allowed a month to implement it.
The demolition displaced Mohammad and Bilal’s families, comprising 11 members, including seven children.
The structures were demolished purportedly for lacking the rarely-granted construction licenses.
Using the pretext of illegal building, Israel demolishes houses on a regular basis to restrict Palestinian expansion in occupied Jerusalem.
At the same time, the municipality and government build tens of thousands of housing units in illegal settlements in East Jerusalem for Jews with a goal to offset the demographic balance in favor of the Jewish settlers in the occupied city.
Although Palestinians in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian Territory that has been subject to Israeli military occupation since 1967, they are denied their citizenship rights and are instead classified only as "residents" whose permits can be revoked if they move away from the city for more than a few years.
They are also discriminated against in all aspects of life including housing, employment and services, and are unable to access services in the West Bank due to the construction of Israel's separation wall.
According to a report by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the Israeli High Court could be liable for war crimes for their policies that led to the dispossession of Palestinians from their properties in Area C of the West Bank.
The report, Fake Justice, shows that the court’s support of Israeli planning policy is tantamount to support for dispossession and forcible transfer of Palestinians, a war crime under international law.