Municipality officers escorted by Israeli soldiers issued demolition warrants for thousands of Palestinian homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ras Khamis and Ras Shahada on Oct. 31, a local Palestinian official said. Jamil Sanduqa, who chairs a local committee to develop the Ras Khamis neighborhood, said that over 15,000 Palestinians live in the buildings slated for demolition. The warrants were posted on 200 residential blocks each consisting of 40-70 apartments and the owners were given 30 days to submit objections to the demolition orders, Sanduqa said. He added that municipality officers took photos of several buildings located near the entrance to the neighborhoods before they issued the orders. Among the buildings was a mosque and a newly built school.
“The orders came very shortly after incumbent mayor Nir Barakat has been elected for a new term,” Sanduqa said. “The municipal council of Jerusalem is a racist council founded to demolish Palestinian residential buildings and to displace us from Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.” He warned that if any building in the nearby Shufat refugee camp “is demolished, we will establish a new refugee camp in Al-Aqsa Mosque erecting tents in its yards.” Israel has destroyed more than 500 Palestinian properties in the West Bank and mostly East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year, displacing 862 people, according to UNOCHA.
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures since occupying the West Bank in 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.