The Uptick in East Jerusalem Demolitions

The frequency and intensity of Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and properties in East Jerusalem [as a separate issue from demolitions in the West Bank and especially in Area C] has been increasing in recent months, and reached even higher levels in July 2016 (with 20 structures demolished on July 26 alone, all for alleged building violations; for detailed reporting on demolitions, see weekly reports from OCHA).

This trend has not gone unnoticed by an increasingly frustrated international community. Notably, last week’s statement from the U.S., while focused mainly on condemning settlement-related announcements, also called out Israel’s “increased demolition of Palestinian structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

The strong reaction of the EU’s ambassador at the Knesset, specifically referring to the demolition of structures donated by EU countries as humanitarian aid to Palestinian Beduouin living in the E1 area, was also a clear sign of the growing level of annoyance Israel’s policy has caused.

As in the past months, the Bedouin community of Anata, Issawiya and the Silwan neighborhood have been targeted, to mention only three of the areas that have been hit in recent weeks by demolitions. This only confirms the fact that these demolitions are not random but follow clear patterns, along the lines that we identified earlier this summer, with demolitions broadly falling into two categories: punitive demolitions and agenda-driven demolitions. Both patterns continue to characterize the ongoing demolition campaign.

That said, it is not entirely clear to us what is motivating this almost unprecedented uptick in East Jerusalem home demolitions. We have noted that in the past, collective punishment is East Jerusalem had been episodic, while in recent months it has become systemic. It is quite possible that these demolitions are yet another example of Israeli authorities flexing their muscles to remind the residents of East Jerusalem just who is the boss.