Jerusalem court freezes demolition of Palestinian homes

Israeli police gather in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood (AFP)

The National  /  August 12, 2021

But the court allowed 16 to be razed immediately.

A Jerusalem court ruling that dozens of home demolitions in a Palestinian neighbourhood should be frozen for six months was “progress” but not “victory”, a lawyer for residents said on Wednesday.

Israel had ordered the demolition of about 100 homes in Silwan, a Palestinian neighbourhood on the edge of the Old City in East Jerusalem, claiming they were built illegally on public land.

Monday’s court order froze most of the demolition orders until February 2022, but allowed 16 homes to be razed immediately.

“I have reached the conclusion that there is space to grant a specific extension,” Judge Sigal Albo of the Jerusalem Court for Local Affairs wrote in the decision.

Lawyer Ziad Kawar, representing residents in the Al-Bustan area of Silwan, told AFP that he said he would appeal to foreign diplomats to put pressure on Israel over home demolitions.

Mr Kawar said his clients were applying for retroactive permission for their homes, which he said they built on their own property without permission.

“It is not possible to get permits there,” he said.

Palestinians say the city rejects nearly all of their building permit applications.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the Arab-Israeli War in 1967, and later annexed it in a move not recognized internationally.

Palestinians regard East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

In the 1980s, Jewish settlers began moving into Silwan. Israelis say they hope to build a park devoted to the biblical King David in Al-Bustan.

Israeli settlers regard Jerusalem in its entirety as the capital of the Jewish people.

Today several hundred settlers live in Silwan under heavy security, among about 50,000 Palestinians.

This week’s court decision came after Israel’s Supreme Court delayed ruling on the eviction of four families in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

The fate of the families in Sheikh Jarrah sparked tension in May that turned into deadly armed conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.