Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in Jerusalem area

Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in Jerusalem area

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Israeli security forces tear down one of the Palestinian buildings still under construction which have been issued notices to be demolished in the West Bank village of Dar Salah. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in Jerusalem area

Israel began demolishing a number of Palestinian homes it considers illegal south of Jerusalem early on Monday, in a move which has drawn international concern.

The Palestinians immediately slammed the demolitions in the Sur Baher area which straddles the West Bank and Jerusalem, but Israeli defended the move as essential to its security.

Before dawn, hundreds of Israeli police and soldiers sealed off at least four buildings in the area close to the Israeli security barrier which cuts off the occupied West Bank, an AFP journalist said.

Reporters were prevented from reaching the buildings while residents and activists were dragged out of the homes.

Earthmovers then began demolishing at least three multi-story buildings, of which two were still under construction, the journalist said.

One man yelled “I want to die here”, after being forced out.

Ismail Abadiyeh, who lives in one of the buildings under threat with his family, said they would be left homeless.

Israel says the buildings were built too close to the separation barrier that it built to stop attacks from the West Bank.

Palestinians accuse Israel of using security as a pretext to force them out of the area as part of long-term efforts to expand settlements and roads linking them.

They also point out that most of the buildings are located in areas meant to be under Palestinian Authority civilian control under the agreements between the Palestinian and Israeli governments.

The Palestinian government said the demolitions were a breach of all agreements they signed with Israel.

“What is painfully happening here is the biggest and most dangerous demolition operation outside of war operations,” Walid Asaf, the Palestinian minister in charge of monitoring Israeli settlements, said in a video from the site.

“This operation aims to cut off Jerusalem from Bethlehem [in the southern West Bank],” he added.

‘Security risk’

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan accused the Palestinians of “lies”, stressing that the demolition was validated by the state’s top court after a lengthy process.

“The structures were built illegally next to the security fence and constitute a risk to the lives of the civilians and security forces,” Erdan cited the supreme court ruling in a tweet, noting the demolitions were due to be completed within the day.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

The Jewish state began construction of the barrier during the bloody second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s and says it is necessary to protect against attacks.

Palestinians see it as an “apartheid wall”.

On June 18, residents in Sur Baher received a 30-day notice from Israeli authorities informing them of their intent to demolish the homes.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says the ruling affects 10 buildings already built or under construction, including around 70 apartments.

The demolitions would see 17 people displaced and another 350 affected, the UN says.

The international body has warned ahead of the demolitions that “displacement, particularly for the most vulnerable, is traumatic and has lasting consequences”.

EU diplomats recently toured the area.

Residents fear another 100 buildings in the area in a similar situation could be at risk in the near future.

It is extremely difficult for Palestinians to receive construction permits from Israeli authorities in areas under their control, and Palestinians and rights activists say a housing shortage has resulted.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom’s domestic milk still cannot compete with imports

    Price competition and a lack of confidence by consumers are the main reasons the dairy market cannot compete with imports, said domestic milk producers. The large displays of imported fresh milk at the Kingdom’s supermarkets present a cumbersome obstacle for local producers, they said.

  • ‘Pesticide-laden cucumbers’ kill two, poison 150 in Banteay Meanchey

    At least two youths have died and 243 others are being treated for vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, dizziness and muscle weakness after they ate cucumbers suspected to consist of pesticides. The incident happened on Saturday, said Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Ath Khem. He told The

  • Three dead, 13 injured in collapse at Siem Reap pagoda

    At least three people were killed and more than 10 others injured on Monday after a dining hall under construction collapsed at Prasat Kokchak pagoda in Kokchak commune, Siem Reap province. Provincial police chief Tith Narong said Military Police, soldiers and local volunteers had successfully recovered 16

  • China Unicom enters Cambodia

    China Unicom, the country’s largest telecoms operator, has expanded into Cambodia to build optical telecommunication pathways in the Kingdom as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Hong Kong-listed company officially opened its China Unicom (Cambodia) subsidiary on Monday to become the

  • Forest Harmony’s $18M luxury villas break ground in Kampot

    Local and French joint-venture Forest Harmony has broken ground on its $18 million “second-home” Luxury Holiday Villas project in Kampot province. Century 21 Mekong CEO and local shareholder of the project Chrek Soknim told The Post that the project will comprise 90 villa units covering 18ha on a 97

  • PP-SHV Expressway on track for completion in early 2023

    The construction of the $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, which broke ground at the end of March, is on track to be completed by early 2023, Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya said on Monday. The 190km high-speed highway linking the capital to the