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Palestinians of Israel strike in protest at house demolitions

Israeli authorities on Tuesday razed 11 unauthorised Palestinian homes in what politicians called an 'unprecedented crime'
Building permits are difficult to obtain and many families resort to building without them, leaving homes liable to demolition (Reuters)

Palestinians across Israel closed businesses and schools on Wednesday in a one-day strike to protest against the demolition of Palestinian homes built without the required - but hard-to-get - permits.

Palestinian citizens of Israel complain that discrimination by the Israeli state makes it impossible for them to obtain planning permission to expand their communities.

The result is that many families resort to building homes without permission, leaving them liable to demolition.

Translation: General strike in Palestinian communities in protest at Israeli demolition policies

On Tuesday, authorities tore down 11 homes in the Palestinian town of Qalansuwa, in northern Israel.

Israeli daily Haaretz said that Qalansuwa mayor Abed al-Bassat Salameh resigned in the wake of the Tuesday demolitions after years of trying in vain to win official approval for an updated town plan.

Mohammad Barakeh, the head of a Palestinian-Israeli umbrella organisation and a former MP, told AFP that strike observance on Wednesday "exceeded expectations." 

"There was an excellent response in all Arab villages and towns," he said.

The Joint List, a coalition of predominantly Palestinian parties, condemned Tuesday's demolitions.

"The act of demolishing 11 houses, whose owners built on their private lands in Qalansuwa, is an unprecedented crime and a declaration of war against the residents of Qalansuwa and against the Arab community in Israel," it said.

Translation: Tomorrow will be a general strike in the occupied Palestinian territories in protest at the occupation's decision to raze 11 Palestinian houses in Qalansuwa

The list is the third largest bloc in the Israeli parliament.

Palestinian citizens of Israel make up some 17.5 percent of the country's population, and are descended from Palestinians who remained on their land after the war that created Israel in 1948.

More than 700,000 Palestinians were forced to leave their homes as Jewish forces seized hundreds of villages in what Palestinians call the Nakba - or Catastrophe.

Israeli public radio said that the anti-demolitions strike was widely observed in Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm, the country's largest majority Palestinian cities, and in the mixed-population city of Haifa.

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