Again, in keeping with the Netanyahu punitive approach to East Jerusalem’s Palestinian population, home demolitions in East Jerusalem continue, and not just for alleged security purposes:
- Palestinian media reported that in late October, the Jerusalem municipality issued demolition orders for a mosque and car wash in Silwan, apparently for lack of building permits. The Municipality is going ahead with the demolition of this mosque over a minor permitting issue, and despite the volatility of the current situation, while at the same time the Israeli High Court has postponed the demolition of a synagogue built illegally by settlers (without permits) on land that Israel recognizes as privately-owned by Palestinians, out of fear of revenge attacks by Jews.
- On November 3, Palestinian media reported that Israel demolished 4 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem in less than three hours. All of these demolitions resulted from administrative orders (i.e., lack of permits).
- On October 24, a Palestinian family in Beit Hanina demolished their own home, built in 1998, following the issuance by Israel of a demolition order. The order was based on Israel ruling that the home was built without permits and was built too close to the road (for which the family was also fines). Palestinians sometimes choose to demolish their homes themselves rather than wait for Israel to do it – permitting them to salvage belongings and saving them the bill sent by Israel for the cost of the demolition.
- On October 27, Israeli authorities reportedly delivered a demolition order to the brother of a Palestinian who allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli earlier in the month. The order stated that the brother’s home was built without the necessary permits.
- While the fast-tracking of punitive demolitions of homes of families of Palestinians engaged in violence against Israelis remains on hold, the Government continues to press the Israeli High Court to allow such demolitions – which are a clear form of collective punishment – go forward. For a powerful commentary on this policy, see: An Organized Barbarity Called 'Demolishing Terrorists’ Homes'.
Most importantly, on October 6, Israel demolished the homes of the families of the Har Nof murderers and sealed a third. We are highlighting these demolitions because we believe that they have had a unique impact on the Palestinians of East Jerusalem. While all of the demolitions described above disclose how unbearably grim life in East Jerusalem can be, these punitive demolitions cut to the very foundations of the current uprising, and have become symbols etched into the consciousness of Palestinian East Jerusalemites.
Upon hearing of these demolitions, every Palestinian of any age with whom we are acquainted asked the same question: “When will Israel demolish the homes of the murderers of Mohammad Abu Khdeir”?
This question goes well beyond a complaint over unfair and unequal treatment, and touches on the deepest sources of the rage that has driven this round of violence: Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem sense, and with good reason, that they are ruled by an official Israel for whom Jewish blood is blood, and Palestinian blood is water. They sense, and not without reason, that with rare exception, for official Israel Palestinian lives don’t matter.
Not only has that not changed, in recent weeks it appears to the Palestinians coming out from behind the concrete walls that their lives matter even less. And there is no “confidence-building measures” that can change that.