World Bulletin/News Desk
Israeli army bulldozers early Tuesday demolished two Palestinian houses in Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of having been built illegally, a local NGO said.
"Israeli forces asked Palestinian families to evacuate their homes immediately. Four Palestinian families were living in the demolished houses," Jawad Siyam, head of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, told Anadolu Agency.
"The Israeli bulldozers razed the houses under the pretext that the houses had been built without permit, even without producing a demolishing order,” he added.
"At 5 o'clock this morning, around 90 policemen and two bulldozers kicked us out of the house and started destroying it without letting us take any of our belongings," Hamza Abu Rajab, owner of one of the buildings, told Reuters.
He said his extended family of 17 was now homeless.
A Palestinian official responsible for Jerusalem said the difficulty in getting housing permits applied unfairly to East Jerusalem's mainly Arab residents. Locals frequently tell of years of struggle to secure a permit that takes a few weeks for Jewish residents in the western side of the city.
According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli authorities demolished more than 406 Palestinian homes, leaving 709 Palestinians displaced, in the West Bank and Jerusalem since the beginning of the year.
Palestinian officials accuse Israeli authorities of launching a relentless campaign to seize the Silwan neighborhood, located a few hundred meters away from Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
In the last two months, Jewish settlers seized nine residential buildings in the neighborhood under the protection of Israeli police.
Palestinians fear that the seizure of residential units in Silwan is part of an Israeli project that aims to Judaize the Palestinian neighborhood.
Israel detains 7 Palestinians
Meanwhile, Israeli army troops had detained seven Palestinians, including two children, overnight in occupied East Jerusalem over their alleged involvement in clashes against Israeli forces in the holy city, a Palestinian activist said.
"The nightly detentions came as part of a broader [arrest] campaign in several areas in Jerusalem," head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Society office in Jerusalem said in a statement.
Clashes erupted late Monday in several areas across the city between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces, including in Silwan and Abu Dis neighborhoods.
Tension has been running high in East Jerusalem since Israel closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Thursday following the shooting of an extremist Jewish rabbi in the city.
Israeli authorities reopened Al-Aqsa on Friday following a day of violent clashes with Palestinian protesters, but barred male Muslim worshippers under 50 years old from entering the religious site.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, for his part, warned that the closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound constituted a "declaration of war" against the Palestinian people and their sacred places.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories," considering all Jewish settlement building on the land illegal.
Palestinians complain that Israeli municipal authorities impose tight restrictions on the building and renovation of Palestinian homes in the holy city.
Last Mod: 04 Kasım 2014, 13:44