Israel began demolishing part of a Palestinian village on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Monday, despite intense international criticism and protests. Bulldozers and hundreds of soldiers started tearing down buildings in Sur Baher after forcing residents out.
Sur Baher straddles the city and the occupied West Bank, and Israel has long claimed that many of its buildings were constructed too close to its separation barrier between the city and the Palestinian territory. After a legal battle lasting years, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in June that the structures did indeed violate a construction ban.
Palestinians have said that the government is using the issue of security as an excuse to force them further and further from the city, expand settlements, and build roads linking the new Israeli communities.
As dawn broke, workers were already destroying several houses while soldiers combed through other buildings in the area.
“Since 2 a.m. they have been evacuating people from their homes by force and they have started planting explosives in the homes they want to destroy,” said community leader Hamada Hamada.
Israel has occupied parts of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, intended to be for the Palestinian population, since the Six-Day War in 1967. In the early 2000s, it set up a barrier between some of the Israeli and Palestinian parts of Jerusalem, a move the government says is why suicide and shooting attacks have decreased. Palestinians, however, call it an “apartheid wall.”
The European Union condemned the demolition, saying it “undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace.”
es/msh (AFP, Reuters)