With all eyes on Gaza, Israel steps up demolitions of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

‘We can’t stand this suffering for long,’ Palestinian activists in East Jerusalem warn.

Machinery operated amid the ruins of a Palestinian house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem on 19 January 2022

Mat Nashed reports in Al Jazeera on 25 February  2024:

Fakhri Abu Diab had no time to pack his belongings when the Israeli authorities arrived on his doorstep in occupied East Jerusalem on February 14. The police first evicted his family and then ordered a bulldozer to demolish his home.

“All of my memories were in that house,” said Abu Diab, 62, who was born and raised in that home. “I even had a picture of my mother holding me as a child. It was hanging on our wall, but now it’s gone.”

In the wake of Israel’s devastating war on Gaza, the Jerusalem municipality has stepped up home demolitions on the east side of the city, which Israel annexed from the occupied West Bank in 1967 and where most of Jerusalem’s 362,000 Palestinians live.

During the first nine months of 2023, Israel demolished a total of 97 Palestinian homes. But 87 homes have been bulldozed in East Jerusalem since Hamas’s deadly attack on Israeli communities and military outposts in southern Israel on October 7 last year, according to Ir Amim, a local non-profit which monitors home demolitions and advocates for Palestinian rights.

The acute uptick in demolitions suggests that Jerusalem’s municipality is exploiting the global attention on Gaza, where nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, to try and uproot more Palestinians from East Jerusalem, activists and experts say.

“These [demolitions] are done under the guise of law enforcement – as if it is a bureaucratic measure – but it is actually a form of state violence and it serves as a mechanism of Palestinian displacement to drive them from the city,” said Amy Cohen, the director of international relations and advocacy for Ir Amim.

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