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Israel destroyed record number of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem in 2019

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Israel has demolished a record number of homes in occupied East Jerusalem in 2019, the most in the past 15 years, Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported on Thursday.

More than 140 Palestinian homes were demolished, resulting in the displacement of 238 Palestinians, 127 of them minors.

Of the homes that were destroyed, 39 were destroyed by the owners themselves after they received demolition orders from Israel, in order to avoid incurring the municipality’s demolition fees.

This year’s demolitions far surpassed the second highest number of demolitions, which occurred in 2016 when 92 homes were destroyed.

Since B’Tselem began recording home demolitions in East Jerusalem in 2004, Israel has destroyed a total of 949 homes, displacing more than 3,000 Palestinians.

Following the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, Israel illegally annexed some 70,000 dunums of Palestinian land and extended the boundaries of the Jerusalem municipality to dozens of Palestinian neighborhoods.

There are some 350,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. Following the occupation of the city, they were given “permanent residency” status, compared to Jewish residents of the city who have full citizenship.

Despite the fact that Palestinians make up 40% of Jerusalem’s population, Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality has zoned only 15% of the land in East Jerusalem for residential use.

(Photo: Peace Now)

In addition to discriminatory zoning laws, Israel makes it extremely difficult for Palestinians to obtain building permits through lengthy application processes that costs tens of thousands of dollars — an impossible feat for Palestinian families in the city, many of whom live below the poverty line.

According to UN documentation, at least a third of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack an Israeli-issued building permit, placing over 100,000 Palestinians at risk of displacement.

In addition to navigating Israel’s permit regime, Palestinians in East Jerusalem struggle to hold onto their homes in the face of Israel’s rapidly growing settler movement in the city.

With the support of the state, Israeli settler organizations have taken control of dozens of properties within Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, and have launched lengthy legal battles against Palestinian families in efforts to evict them from their homes.

Settlement watchdog Peace Now released data last month showing that of 57,737 housing units approved in construction permits in Jerusalem from 1991 – 2018, only 16.5% (9,536 units) were approved for construction in Palestinian neighborhoods.

(Photo: Peace Now)

In contrast, 37.8% (21,834 units) of the approved applications were for construction in Israeli settlement neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

The group also noted a “drastic increase” in settlement construction in East Jerusalem following the elections of US President Donald Trump, with permit approvals in settlement neighborhoods up 58% in 2017-2018 compared to the two years before he came into office.

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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16 Responses

  1. Mayhem on October 26, 2019, 1:57 am

    The primary reasons for home demolitions are to stem terrorism and respond to security needs. The author here doesn’t even bother to mention this.

    • Misterioso on October 26, 2019, 8:45 am


      The Nazi occupiers used the same outrageous argument!!

    • oldgeezer on October 26, 2019, 10:45 am

      Because it’s a complete falsehood which is intended to excuse crimes against humanity.

    • eljay on October 26, 2019, 11:37 am

      || Mayhem: The primary reasons for home demolitions are to stem terrorism and respond to security needs. ||

      Israel commits acts of terrorism in not-Israeli territory by demolishing the homes of not-Israelis. And somehow this is supposed to “stem terrorism” and “respond to security needs”. How exactly does that work?

      More importantly, are not-Israelis similarly entitled to demolish the homes of Israelis in Israeli territory – or, in the case of Israeli colonists, in not-Israeli territory – to stem Israeli terrorism and to respond to their own security needs?

      • just on October 26, 2019, 1:52 pm

        To your point, eljay:

        “How Israel Is Deterred by a Handful of Violent Jewish Settlers

        This handful has the sympathy of countless others …

        … Settler leaders did condemn the stoning and threatening of soldiers in Yitzhar and adjacent areas. But in that settlement, there was a sizable group that backed the extremists. As usual, there is an undeclared ranking regarding these incidents.

        Violent attacks against Palestinians are unworthy of condemnation (other than in exceptional cases of murder, such as that of the Dawabshe family in the village of Duma four years ago); attacking leftist activists can always be described as an exaggeration or fabrication; attacking policemen and Civil Administration officials is not the same as attacking Golani soldiers.

        Yitzhar is not an isolated phenomenon, as some tried to represent it this week. Only last week, settlers stoned a force headed by the Binyamin regional brigade commander and lightly wounded a Civil Administration official in an incident at outposts in the Shiloh Valley, north of Ramallah.

        Last year, while negotiating with Yitzhar leaders, the army recommended on five occasions the demolishing of a trailer housing extremist young men in the outpost of Kumi Ori, near Yitzhar, which was the focus of this week’s incident. The politicians blocked this recommendation all five times.

        On Thursday, some partial demolition was approved in another outpost. What Mizrahi said is well understood by officers currently serving in these areas. In an unceasing election season, there is an evident unwillingness of politicians to anger the radical right.

        To this, one should add the ongoing incompetence of law enforcement agencies. The excessively forgiving attitude adopted by the courts towards violent right-wing activists has been recognized for decades. The Judea and Samaria police will also get no police commissioner’s citations in the coming years. …”

        I have a bit more to say and disagree with Harel in the article. There are loads of violent, racist thieves among the lot of them~ in and out of ‘Israel’. It’s all state- sanctioned theft and violence and has been the same as it ever was, since the beginning… It is terrorism. The unmitigated gall of lawmakers and leaders in and out of Israel declaring that it is the only democracy in a ‘tough neighborhood’ makes me sick.

        Who are the inciters? Who are the terrorists? Who are the imperialists and colonizers? Who are the jailers? Who really are the thieves of resources, lands, histories, and lives?

    • Mayhem on October 26, 2019, 5:55 pm

      From Haaretz Defense Ministry: Israel Has Destroyed 45 Homes of Terrorists’ Families in Last 3 Years read about the facts behind these measures. How the victims of terror are the ones calling loudly for such demolitions and how the government won’t go ahead with a demolition in the case of suspected mental illness on the part of the terrorist: “When a person is not responsible for his actions due to a mental deficiency, the deterrent purpose for which this authority is intended cannot exist,” according to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.
      These demolitions are clearly intended as a deterrent and their support comes directly from people affected directly by terror. Hardly the actions of a government viciously demeaned by the MW ratpack.

      • just on October 27, 2019, 12:28 am

        Gideon Levy:

        … “Islam Abu Hamid is neither a “murderer” nor a “terrorist.” He is a violent adversary of the occupation, a member of a family whose sons fight the occupation by force, four of whom have been sentenced to life in prison. In May 2018 he threw a heavy marble slab at the soldiers of the Duvdevan unit who had invaded his home. The slab struck the soldier Ronen Lubarsky in the head and killed him.

        If he were Israeli, Abu Hamid would be considered a daring hero who fought the enemy courageously. In schools and in the Israel Defense Forces his heroism would be taught; David against Goliath, with a marble slab in his hand instead of a slingshot. But Abu Hamid is a Palestinian and he is a “terrorist” who has been sentenced to life in prison. The military judge, Lt. Col. Eti Adar, who is a clear authority on morality in a “proper society,” waxed poetic: “Taking the life of a person intentionally constitutes the greatest harm to the sanctity of life, one of the fundamental values of any proper society.” It’s a pity that the judge’s high-sounding words aren’t memorized by IDF soldiers who shoot the Gaza protesters to death and the Border Police who kill almost every knife wielder.

        But the thirst for vengeance against Abu Amid had no end, and so the IDF decided to demolish his family’s home. Lubarsky’s bereaved father, Vladimir, urged the government to carry out the demolition quickly and thoroughly – it was a four-story home to a number of families – and also to execute Abu Hamid. Then-Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has meanwhile become the hero of the peace camp in Israel, called Abu Hamid, in delicate terms “the disgusting terrorist, may his name be blotted out.”

        The PR people of the IDF spokesman’s unit described the demolition of the house as a daring operation. In a propaganda clip four red circles are shown in an aerial photograph: “Disturbers of the peace barricading themselves on the rooftops” and a pathos-filled voiceover says: “The house will be destroyed and demolished in 10 minutes. To all the fighters, well done.” The Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth splashed the headline all over its front page: “Duvdevan settles accounts” (December 16, 2018) after Lubarsky’s comrades were given the honor of demolishing the house as a consolation prize over the killing of their comrade.

        That was then the third time the house in the al-Amari camp was demolished. On Thursday was the fourth demolition, after the family tried to rebuild. Justices Yael Willner and Dafna Barak-Erez of the Supreme Court, also known for its enlightenment, approved at the time the third demolition and banned the rebuilding of the house to the end of time. The house, we note, is in Area A, which is under Palestinian sovereignty, but who remembers that. Mahmoud Abbas already announced that the Palestinian Authority will rebuild the house and the bereaved father pledged: “We’ll see to it that the house is destroyed again and again.”

        As noted, three days ago the forces once again raided the place and the army spokesman’s video clip is already in the works. Once again there was resistance, once again Palestinians were arrested and injured, once again, “order” was maintained, the order that allows the IDF to raid and destroy and prohibit Palestinians from resisting. And all of this, Israel claims, is to achieve deterrence. There is no greater lie than this: The IDF knows that no deterrence will be achieved. Four sons in prison for life – and deterrence was not achieved. Four times the house was demolished – and deterrence was not achieved. And it will never be achieved when it comes to those who are willing to sacrifice everything.

        The IDF will destroy this house over and over because the bereaved family and the Duvdevan unit are vociferous and influential enough to exert pressure to avenge the killing of a soldier and to show the Palestinians who is greater. Not only is Israel’s foreign policy its domestic policy, sometimes its security policy is intended to relieve pressure and satisfy urges.

        Lubarsky shouldn’t have been there. The IDF shouldn’t have been there. Israel shouldn’t be in al-Amari. As long as it is there, more and more marble slabs will fall on soldiers’ heads. There is no demolition and no deterrence that will prevent it. That should be etched on the marble slab of the occupation.”

        Hope that this helps you out with your delusions wrt the “great lie” of deterrence and security…

      • eljay on October 27, 2019, 8:46 am

        || Mayhem: … These demolitions are clearly intended as a deterrent and their support comes directly from people affected directly by terror. … ||

        Fair enough. Back to my question: Are not-Israelis similarly entitled to demolish the homes of Israelis in Israeli territory – or, in the case of Israeli colonists, in not-Israeli territory – to stem Israeli terrorism and to respond to their own security needs?

      • oldgeezer on October 27, 2019, 2:40 pm


        The claim that the demolitions act as a deterrent is risible. It is collective punishment against people not involved in perpetrating the crime and is collective punishment against innocent families.

        I hope to see an Israeli official swinging from the gallows for this clear and obvious crime against humanity before my time is up. To be honest I only mean that metaphorically as I disagree with executions. If it was going to happen I wouldn’t protest against it though.

      • Mayhem on October 28, 2019, 8:18 am

        @just, any remarks by the traitor Gideon Levy go straight into the rubbish as far as I am concerned. Levy fails to mention that the Israeli soldier was killed while taking part in an operation aimed at arresting a terrorist cell involved in recent shooting attacks. He was hit by a 40-pound slab of marble thrown by Hamid from a rooftop.

        The IDF said that the home had been built on a plot where a building was previously demolished in the 1990’s following an attack by Hamid’s brother, which killed Shin Bet operative Noam Cohen.

        Following the initial demolition, the family was ordered not to rebuild the structure but they didn’t listen. In fact the violent crime by Hamid has led to a strong call for the death penalty by the victims of these kind of murderous actions, feeling that house demolitions are an inadequate deterrent.

        @just, your endorsement of violence and bloodshed shows just how unproductive and despicable your views are.

      • oldgeezer on October 28, 2019, 4:38 pm


        “@just, your endorsement of violence and bloodshed shows just how unproductive and despicable your views are. ”

        lol says the man arguing in favour of highly mechanized violence being inflicted upon innocent peoples by one of the worlds most powerful armies. Your points are pure comedy but don’t worry we already know how despicable you are.

        As to your article as others pointed out it doesn’t completely back up your argument. Also it concedes a point, already argued by you, that the Palestinians not only live under the boot of Israelis but are subject to what amounts to mob justice. Lynching also occurs although often rope isn’t used but a bullet or car by the deranged criminals frequently referred to as settlers instead of what they are which is armed and protected terrorists.

        Lots of verbiage but no meat in that article. I actually have to point out that correlation is not causation? Really?

        One of the many reasons, and also the first, that attacks would decrease following a suicide attack is that there is a very limited population that would be willing to undertake such an attack. Given the millions of people attacks are both infrequent and rare. Subsequent to such an attack there would be a drop off because one of them just got killed! Until such time as someone else comes forward to step into that available pool there would be a drop off.

        Given decades of terrorism and murder inflicted on the Palestinians by the low life scum in the iof and settllements if the policy was effective there’d be no need for the policy anymore.

        This is pure retribution. Immoral. Illegal. A war crime and a crime against humanity.

        Justice will come one of these days and a price will be paid.

  2. mondonut on October 26, 2019, 5:08 pm

    Another masterwork of disinformation and propaganda. That somehow or other overlooks the fact that in 2018, “Palestinian” neighborhoods in East Jerusalem were granted more building permits than “Israeli” neighborhoods.

  3. Ossinev on October 27, 2019, 10:48 am

    “The primary reasons for home demolitions are to stem terrorism and respond to security needs”
    Jawohl Mein Zionist !!

  4. bcg on October 28, 2019, 2:19 pm

    @Mayhem: ” Israel Destroys Homes to Deter Terrorists. A New Study Says It Works—But Is It Moral?” ( )

    Well, if you read the article – I recommend it! – here’s what they found: ” In fact, they found two separate correlations. Precautionary demolitions resulted in a significant increase in suicide attacks, a “48.7 percent increase in the number of suicide terrorists from an average district,” according to the study. By contrast, punitive demolitions led to a significant decrease in terror attacks, between 11.7 and 14.9 percent, in the months immediately following the demolition.”

    The home demolitions in Jerusalem are “precautionary”.

  5. bcg on October 28, 2019, 2:25 pm

    @ ” Israel Destroys Homes to Deter Terrorists. A New Study Says It Works—But Is It Moral” Mayhem – another comment from the article, from one of the authors of the study:

    “Klor’s reading of the results was entirely different. He repeatedly emphasized that the “magnitude of the deterrence is small, localized and diminishes over time.” In his view, the objections to the demolitions are powerful enough that their study’s limited results shouldn’t be used as a justification. “If you ask me personally,” Klor said, the current round of demolitions is primarily meant “to placate the Israeli public.” “

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