Israeli Crews Demolish 13 Illegal Palestinian Homes

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli forces guard the area as IDF bulldozers demolish buildings near the security fence in Sur Baher, Monday. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Security forces on Monday morning were demolishing 13 structures in the Arab village of Wadi Hummus, located outside Yerushalayim adjacent to the village of Sur Baher. The village is located in Area B, under Palestinian Authority civilian control and Israeli security control, and IDF bulldozers accompanied by large numbers of soldiers, Border Guards and police were on the scene to prevent rioting.

The demolitions took place after the High Court approved requests by the Defense Ministry to do so, claiming that the structures were a security threat. The structures are built against the security fence, and could allow for terrorists to dig through the fence and enter Israeli neighborhoods. The court ruled in June that the buildings could be demolished.

The demand to demolish the building was first made by the Lach Yerushalayim movement, which seeks to stem illegal Arab building in the Israel. In a statement, the group said that it “congratulates the government of Israel for fulfilling the legal decision of the High Court. The removal of these illegally built homes next to the security fence will enable the IDF to act more freely in the area as part of its war on terror. We support the security forces who with great determination work in this difficult area in order to ensure that residents of Yerushalayim are secure.”

In the wake of a recent High Court decision clearing the way for the demolitions, Israeli work crews moved into the neighborhood overnight. Massive construction vehicles smashed through the roofs of several buildings, and large excavators were digging through the rubble.

Israel built its security wall in the early 2000s in a step to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from reaching Israel from the Arab regions. The Palestinians say the wall is an illegal land grab because it juts into the Arab areas in many places.

Sur Baher is one of those places. In negotiations with residents, Israel built the route of the wall in Sur Baher inside the Israeli side, to prevent dividing the village and disrupting life, according to court documents.

However, residents, claiming it is impossible to get Israeli building permits in east Jerusalem, began building the apartment buildings in the Arab part of the village with permission from the Palestinian Authority. Early this decade, the IDF ordered the construction to stop, saying it could not permit high-rise buildings so close to the separation barrier.

The High Court this month rejected residents’ final appeal, clearing the way for the demolitions.