In East Jerusalem, hundreds of Palestinians are anxious after the Israeli Supreme Court approved a new wave of demolition, citing lack of permits which are largely out of bounds for Palestinians.
The demolition of 500 Palestinian houses began on Wednesday after the Israeli Supreme Court court rejected an appeal submitted by Palestinians, allowing the municipality to flatten an entire neighbourhood, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
The court reportedly rejected the appeal saying the families lacked required the permits, ignoring the fact that the Jerusalem Municipality largely refuses them essential permits.
In East Jerusalem and West Bank, which Israeli state recognises as 'Area C', Palestinians are required to obtain a permit for any kind of construction, which residents and rights groups say are near-impossible to obtain for Palestinians.
Rejecting the appeal earlier this week, Justice Yosef Elron said it doesn't matter whether the Jerusalem municipality refused the grant permits to Palestinians or subjected them to discrimination.
The residency of over 14,500 Palestinians was revoked in 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when Israel occupied Palestine's West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Israeli authorities have been increasingly demolishing Palestinians’ properties and replacing them with settler buildings.
International law considers all the settlements illegal, with the UN stating: “The construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, are in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions.”
Between 2004 and 2018, Israeli authorities demolished 803 housing units in East Jerusalem, Israeli rights group B’tselem said in a report. The number continued to increase in 2019.
Palestinians say they’re forced to choose between demolishing their own houses or paying the city for the job which costs them between $22,000 and $36,000.
As a result, at least 330,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem are at the risk of displacement.
“This is a policy that rewards its promulgators well: It chokes off the ability of Jerusalem’s Arab residents to develop and build, and at the same time forces them into breaking the law,” Mordechai Kremnitzer, a professor emeritus of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote in an opinion piece for Haaretz.
“Then the judicial system, acting like an automaton, punishes the perpetrators,” he said.