A senior Palestinian official says thousands of Palestinian-owned houses in occupied Jerusalem are facing the threat of demolition by Israeli authorities.
The Palestinian Authority’s deputy governor of Jerusalem, Abdullah Siam, told the Arabic-language Voice of Palestine radio station on Monday that Israeli courts are considering the demolition of some 18,000 Palestinian homes.
He added that the measure comes at a time when there is a need for 15,000 housing units in the occupied city.
Siam noted that the demolition of the Palestinian homes in Jerusalem is in line with the Israeli regime’s collective punishment, ethnic cleansing, and Judaization of the occupied city through forced displacement of Palestinians.
Israeli officials have issued nearly 650 demolition orders against Palestinian-owned structures in Jerusalem since the beginning of the current year.
Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes and structures in occupied Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank are part of a plan by the regime to expand settlements and force Palestinians from their homes and land.
Israeli officials say demolition orders are carried out because the Palestinian-owned structures have been built without the required construction permits.
Palestinians, on the other hand, argue such authorization is routinely denied, forcing unlicensed building.
According to Israeli rights group B’tselem, Israel has demolished hundreds of houses over the years as part of Israel’s “collective punishment” policy, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless.
A report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released in January said the year 2019 saw a 45 percent increase in demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank compared with the previous year.
The figures showed that a total of 393 Palestinian structures were destroyed or confiscated in Area C, which is under full Israeli control, compared with 271 structures in 2018, while the number of Palestinians displaced from their homes also increased to 507 in 2019, compared with 218 the previous year.
The demolitions of Palestinian homes come at the same time that Israel continues to expand settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law and are a major stumbling block to peace efforts as they are built on land Palestinians consider to be part of their future state.