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Israel demolishes Palestinian family's home in Jerusalem for fourth time

Hatem Hussein Abu Rayaleh's house bulldozed on grounds of lacking building permits, as Israelis step up demolitions in occupied territories
Palestinian Hatem Hussein Abu Rayaleh points at his house which was demolished again by Israeli forces in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya, 1 March 2021 (AFP)

Israeli authorities on Monday demolished a two-storey house belonging to a Palestinian family in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya, on the grounds of not having a building permit.

Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, a resident of Issawiya and local activist, told Wafa news that a number of Israeli military vehicles, bulldozers and soldiers imposed a cordon around the home of Hatem Hussein Abu Rayaleh, near the neighbourhood's eastern entrance, before demolition.

Abu Rayaleh’s home was demolished for the fourth time since 1999, according to Wafa. The owner was partially paralysed during the third demolition of his home in 2009, when he fell from a high altitude and broke his spine.

'Where should we go? Where [should] our kids should go? They want to take all the lands and seize it'

- Issawiya resident

Israel makes it almost impossible for Palestinians to get building permits, while the Israeli government plans and expands settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank regularly. 

An Issawiya resident told local media: “This is what [the Israelis] want… They build and expand settlements and then expel [Palestinians]. Where should we go? Where [should] our kids should go? They want to take all the lands and seize it.”

In November, Israeli rights group B’Tselem published a report revealing that Israeli demolitions of Palestinian properties have hit a four-year high, making hundreds of Palestinians homeless in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The latest figures are the highest statistics since 2016, when a record-breaking number of house demolitions left 1,496 Palestinians homeless.

Israeli demolitions, on the grounds of lacking building permits, are widely viewed as illegal, according to international law. OCHA, the United Nations’s humanitarian office, has called on Israel to stop the practice.