Israel demolishes home in Jerusalem, expels two families

Israel demolishes home in Jerusalem, expels two families
2 min read
West Bank
26 January, 2022
The Karameh family said they had been paying fees to avoid demolition for over 20 years.
According to human rights groups Israel demolished 96 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem alone in 2021. [Getty]

Israeli forces demolished on Tuesday a two-apartment house in the Al-Tour neighborhood in east Jerusalem, according to Palestinian sources.

The building was home to the Karameh family, the owners, and another Palestinian family who rented one of the apartments. Altogether 16 Palestinians including 12 minors were reportedly expelled. The demolition came after years of legal battling in Israeli courts for building without a permit.

Hamdi Karameh, a family member, told The New Arab that “we have been paying fees to avoid demolition since 2001. We have paid more than 800,000 shekels (256,000 USD) over more than 20 years, because the municipality never gave us a permit to build.”

Karameh said the family “received a court decision to suspend the demolition, but the court issued the decision at 10:00 in the morning. The demolition had already begun by then.” The New Arab obtained a copy of the court ruling. The court had actually replied to the family's request to suspend the demolition at 9:28AM, by instructing the Jerusalem municipality to respond to the demand before 10:00AM. 

Yara Jalajel, legal expert who confirmed the authenticity of the document explained to The New Arab that "this is a procedure that Palestinian lawyers use to delay Israeli demolitions".

According to Jalajel, "the procedure would buy the family some time until the official decision is issued. Apparently, this time the Israeli municipality had anticipated it and begun demolition earlier". 

“At 6:00 in the morning around 100 soldiers surrounded the house and ordered us to leave,” said Karameh, “we refused and remained inside. Then more Israeli troops arrived and began to throw stun grenades and tear gas inside the house, before forcibly pulling us out.”

Video footage taken by residents showed Israeli forces throwing stun grenades at Palestinians who gathered around the house during the demolition. Journalists were also targeted according to local media reports.

“We sent the children over to relatives’ homes in the West Bank, especially because of the cold weather,” said Karameh, “but we are going back to the rubble of the house and we are putting up a tent there. We are not leaving.”

According to Israeli official data, Israel rarely grants building permits to Palestinians in Jerusalem. The lack of building permits is behind most unauthorised construction works and demolition cases against Palestinian properties in Jerusalem.

According to Israeli human rights NGO B'tselem, Israel demolished 160 Palestinian properties in Jerusalem in 2021, out of which 96 were homes.