Israel has forced several Palestinian families to demolish their own homes in an occupied Jerusalem suburb this month, threatening them with fines and fees if they refused.
On Tuesday, 7 September, the Dweik family in the town of Silwan were the latest to undergo this humiliation, after the Israeli legal system denied their appeals. They were given 20 days’ notice that they had to demolish their housing, and that failing to do so would incur the costs of the city council doing it on their behalf.
The Dweik home built four years ago and measuring 80 square meters, housed nine members of the family, including seven children, the youngest of whom is 16 months old.
The demolition follows that of another Silwan family, in the neighbourhood of Wadi ar-Rababa, on Wednesday, 1 September. They were also forced to tear down their own building or face excessively large costs.
The ongoing forced displacement of Palestinian families, ostensibly on the grounds that they do not have legal permission for the location of their homes, comes despite Israel’s continued construction of settlements on Palestinian land in violation of international law.
July saw the second-highest number of demolitions of Palestinian structures on record, according to the United Nations. Some 126 Palestinian structures across the West Bank and East Jerusalem were demolished in that month, displacing 181 Palestinians – 105 of whom were children. More than 2,000 Palestinians also saw their livelihoods affected as a result.
February was even worse, with 153 demolitions.
Almost all demolitions were the result of Israeli claims that the owners lacked building permits, which are near impossible to obtain under the occupation.
Elsewhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, soldiers destroyed two homes being built in the villages of Beit Ta’mar and Harmala, east of Bethlehem, on 1 September.
And on 3 September, Israeli occupation forces destroyed a Bedoun village for the 192nd time in ten years, according to local activists.
Al-Araqib, in the Negev/Naqab desert near Beersheba city, was razed to the ground by soldiers, while other Palestinians were prevented from witnessing the demolition. The destruction left 22 families homeless.
Israel has claimed the land belongs to the state, despite human rights groups arguing that the family legally bought the land before the formation of Israel.
The demolitions are part of an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing across Palestine, which human rights groups have branded a form of apartheid.