Israel’s Supreme Court approves the demolition of buildings in East-Jerusalem

The Israeli Supreme Court has given its approval on the 11 June for the destruction of 10 buildings in Sur Bahir, East Jerusalem. Following this decision, on 18 June, Israeli authorities have sent a 30-day notice to the residents informing about the demolition.

The demolition of the apartments in Sur Bahir includes two inhabited apartments and eight, which are currently under construction. If the order is executed, according to UN OCHA, 70 apartments will be demolished and three families with 17 members, including nine children, would be displaced.

Sur Bahir is a Palestinian neighbourhood in the south-east of Jerusalem. A greater part of the community is located in East-Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel in 1980.

The demolitions of buildings in East-Jerusalem are frequent and mostly justified by claiming that the inhabitants do not have the required building permits from the Israeli authorities. But the case of Sur Bahir is different. As stated by the community a part of the land is placed in Area A and B, which is according to the Oslo accords either fully (Area A), or partly (Area B), under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

However, a part of the buildings in question is located in Area A, namely Wadi al-Hummus, on the Israeli side of the internationally condemned separation wall. The construction permits for the buildings were, therefore, approved by the PA ten years ago.

The demolition of the buildings located in this area is made possible by an Israeli military order from the year 2011, which prohibits the construction within a 100-300 metre buffer zone of the wall.

Residents of the apartments have filed a petition against the planned demolition, which was eventually denied by the Israeli Supreme Court. Ismail Obeidiya told Mondoweiss that “We fought so long and so hard, for years, to try to save our home. But in the end, the Israeli courts, the ‘High Court of Justice’ as they say, could not offer us any justice.”

He continued by stating “I chose this area to build my home because it’s Area A, we thought this would protect us.”

Executive director of NGO B’tselem, Hagai El-Ad, told Al Jazeera that the Israeli Supreme Court records are "[…] demonstrating unequivocally how the court routinely rejects petitions filed by Palestinians – while providing a stamp of legal approval to systematic human rights violations, including forcible transfer, collective punishment, blanket impunity to Israeli security forces and torture”.

The decision of the Supreme Court raised international attention. On Tuesday diplomats from 20 countries, visited the area. According to the Times of Israel, the French consul general for Jerusalem, Pierre Cochard, explained that “he did not think the security explanation provided by Israel was sufficient to move ahead with the demolitions.”

The European Union explained in statement that “The continuation of this policy undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace.”

Following this decision, another 100 buildings in the area under similar circumstances are at risk of getting demolished in the future.

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