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Israelis begin demolishing dozens of homes in east Jerusalem

Israeli work crews have begun demolishing dozens of Palestinian homes in an east Jerusalem neighbourhood, in one of the largest operations of its kind in years.

The demolitions capped a years-long legal battle over the buildings, built along the invisible line straddling the city and the occupied West Bank.

Israel says the buildings were erected too close to its West Bank separation barrier.

However, residents say they are on West Bank land, and the Palestinian Authority gave them construction permits.

Hamas and Israel: A history of violence

Hamas and Israel: A history of violence

In the last decade or so, Israeli forces have launched a series of major military operations against the Gaza strip.

In the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for the demolitions, Israeli work crews moved in overnight.


According to the United Nations, around 20 people already living in the buildings have been displaced, while 350 owners of properties that were under construction or not yet inhabited have also been affected.

Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War.

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The international community considers both areas to be occupied territory, and the Palestinians seek them as parts of a future independent state.

Israel built its separation barrier in the early 2000s in a step that it says was needed to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from reaching Israel from the West Bank.

Israeli security forces demolishing a building which was earlier evacuated of its residents as they demolish the Palestinian buildings, some still under construction, which have been issued notices to be demolished in the Wadi al-Hummus area adjacent to the Palestinian village of Sur Baher
Image: The apartments were built with permission from the Palestinian Authority

The Palestinians say the structure is an illegal land grab because it juts into the West Bank in many places.

Sur Baher is one of those places.

In negotiations with residents, Israel built the route of the structure in Sur Baher inside the West Bank 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 West Bank part of the village with permission from the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli military ordered the construction to stop, saying it could not permit high-rise buildings so close to the separation barrier.

Israel's Supreme Court this month rejected residents' final appeal, clearing the way for the demolitions.

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