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Israeli forces demolish Palestinian building in East Jerusalem

Israeli forces raided Ras Shihada neighbourhood and declared it a closed military zone before bulldozing the Alqam’s building
Israeli authorities use heavy machinery to demolish a house belonging to a Palestinian family in East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Hanina August 2019 (AFP)
By Sondus Ewies in Jerusalem and Mustafa Abu Sneineh

Israeli forces demolished a residential and commercial building in the Palestinian Shuafat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday, the official news agency Wafa reported.

Dozens of Israeli forces and bulldozers were seen near the Shuafat military checkpoint, before heading to Ras Shihada, a neighbourhood in the Shuafat refugee camp.

The demolished building belonged to the Alqam family and consisted of six apartments, four shops, and a car garage on the ground floor.

Ehab Alqam, one of the owners of the building, told Middle East Eye that his family was sleeping when Israeli forces approached the property to start the demolition.

“We have received a demolition order, but there are no building permits being issued for the Shuafat refugee camp, and we have been chasing the case in courts, but they did not do us justice,” Alqam said.

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He added that the building housed six Alqam families, and that Israeli bulldozers demolish it along with the furniture and belongings.

“They didn't let us take anything. We are 30 individuals living in the building, 18 of them are underage,” Alqam said.

“This is a tax we, Palestinian Jerusalemites, pay for living in Jerusalem, but we are ready to pay this tax, and we insist on living in Jerusalem, and stay here no matter how much they demolish and expel.”

Palestinian residents told Wafa that the Israeli forces raided the Ras Shihada neighbourhood early in the morning, and cordoned it off, declaring it a closed military zone before bulldozing the Alqam's building.

Abdullah Alqam, an activist in Jerusalem, told Quds News that the Israeli authorities notified the family of a demolition order, saying that they do not have building permits.

“It is known that the Israeli municipality does not issue building permits for the [Palestinian] residents of the occupied city, but they need to live and build like the rest of the people,” Abdullah said.

The construction of the building was completed almost six months ago. Ehab Alqam told MEE that his family members are originally from historic Palestine before getting expelled from their land by Jewish forces in 1948.

“Although we have paid fines, more than 100,000 shekels, they still came and demolished the building,” he said, adding that the demolition of the shops has cost the family around 400,000 shekels ($115,000) in losses.

In 2019, the Israeli authorities in occupied East Jerusalem demolished more than 170 properties, residential and commercial. Some Palestinians have self-demolished their properties to avoid paying for the hefty costs and fines of demolitions carried out by Israeli forces.

Palestinians in Jerusalem find it almost impossible to obtain building permits from Israeli authorities who have occupied the city’s Palestinian eastern neighbourhoods since 1967.

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