Mass demolitions in Shu’afat Refugee Camp

On November 21, the Jerusalem Municipality, backed by the Israeli police, proceeded with the demolition of 21 shops in the Shu’afat Refugee Camp, based on the claim that the shops were built without permits (which are impossible to obtain in any case). Owners of the shops were given just twelve hours notice before the demolitions were carried out. This is the first instance of Israeli authorities in Jerusalem demolishing structures located beyond the separation barrier; however, it is exceptionally rare and the number of structures demolished in this instance is unprecedented. Notably: when Israel unilaterally expanded Jerusalem’s border in June 1967, the Shua’fat Refugee Camp became part of the city. However, since that time, Israel has provided virtually no municipal services in the camp, and what rudimentary services did exist are extended by UNRWA. These demolitions, unprecedented in scope since 1967, can only be understood in the context of both the ongoing assault on UNRWA, and increasingly aggressive Israeli policies towards the Palestinians of East Jerusalem.