Israeli authorities have significantly accelerated the number of home demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic crisis. Around 89 residential units have been demolished since the beginning of 2020, compared with 109 through all of last year. In the first three weeks of August alone, 24 homes were demolished, according to Ir Amim, a civil society organization in Jerusalem. In addition, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem face unprecedented rates of infection. A staggering 41% of tests taken among Palestinians in the city last week came back positive, compared to a national average of 7%, according to the Haaretz daily.
Ir Amim reported that in 58 of the home demolitions conducted so far this year, East Jerusalem residents executed the destruction themselves: Following a 2017 law increasing penalties for illegal construction, residents can be charged large fees for the demolition work, leading many to take it upon themselves once the decision is made.
According to Ir Amim, in 2019 over 21,000 housing units in Jerusalem were moved ahead to the detailed outline stage of planning, but less than 8% were in Palestinian neighborhoods, even though Palestinians make up 38% of the city’s population. Outline plans are a prerequisite for obtaining permits for legal construction.
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- Download Ir Amim report The Stark Rise in Home Demolitions in East Jerusalem in 2019