Palestinian children Bayan, 12, and Ayham, 7, stand with their father on the ruins of their demolished bedrooms in East Jerusalem (Photo: DCIP / Ivan Karakashian)
The Israeli occupation authorities Wednesday morning forced a Palestinian family to demolish their own houses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, according to local sources.
The Nassar family used a bulldozer to tear down their three houses in the Wadi Qaddum area in line with the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem’s decision to avoid paying exorbitant fines if the municipality carries out the demolition on its own.
The houses were demolished purportedly for being built without licenses.
Mazen Nassar, the house owner, was quoted by WAFA news agency as stating that they were forced to carry out the demolition to avoid paying 80,000 shekels (some US$ 26,000) to the municipality, while pointing that their families consisting of 35 members were displaced as a result.
While Nassar’s father purchased the 2-donum plot of land 40 years ago, the occupation authorities, namely municipality, offered the Nassar family “compensation” to evict the land, as revealed by Mazen.
When the Nassar family refused to evict the land, they were subjected to acts of harassment by the municipal staff as a means to drive them out, with the municipality considering the land as a public utility.
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.