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Jerusalem clashes as Palestinian homes demolished

Demolition teams from the Jerusalem municipality on Feb. 5 destroyed three Palestinian homes and forced a man to demolish his own home in East Jerusalem, leaving 28 homeless. Clashes erupted in one neighborhood following the demolitions, injuring 15 and leading to seven detentions, according to eyewitnesses. The first demolition was in the Beit Hanina neighborhood north of the Old City. Demolition teams, residents said, arrived at 4:30 AM at Wadi al-Dam in Beit Hanina and stormed the home of Muhammad Sanduqa. They then forced the family out and evacuated furniture before bulldozers pulled the house down. Alaa Sanduqa told Ma'an News Agency that his family house was built 17 years ago. The house, he said, measured 65 square meters and housed seven people. He highlighted that his family had paid a fine of 1,000 shekels ($280) for building without a license.

A second demolition raid was carried out in Sur Bahir village south of the Old City. Mujahid Abu Sarhan told Ma'an that he was awakened by the "noise of Israeli soldiers smashing my windows with rifle butts." He added: "The Israeli forces arrived without prior notice and they assaulted me in front of my baby girl. My house was built in 2008 and since then I have been trying to obtain a construction license." He says that he paid a fine of 13,000 shekels ($3700) for building without a license.

A third demolition was reported in Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood. Eyewitnesses said municipality demolition teams forcibly evacuated the families of Nasser Ramadan Shqeirat and his brother Hussein. While the teams evacuated furniture, Israeli forces assaulted women and young people who tried to prevent the evacuation. They sprayed pepper spray at the residents.

Clashes broke out in Jabal al-Mukkabir after the demolitions, which left 15 injured with various bruises and cuts. Fatah secretary in Jabal al-Mukkabir, Iyad Bashir, was among the injured. Israeli forces also detained seven young Palestinians and released them hours later. Ramadan Naser Shuqeirat, Oday Naser Shuqeirat, and Ramadan Shtewi Shuqeirat were identified among the detainees.

Khalid Mahmoud Bashir said Israeli forces raided his house in Jabal al-Mukkabir without prior notice, evicted his family and assaulted them with batons and tear gas. Bashir said he, and his eight family members including a disabled daughter, have been living in the 85-square-meter house for five years. He explained that the Jerusalem municipality imposed a fine of 85 thousand shekels on him eight months ago, and he pays the monthly installments for it. He added that he managed to get a court order to suspend the demolition, but that was "ignored by the occupation bulldozers."

Maher Mashahra, meanwhile, was forced to demolish his house in al-Sala area in Jabal al-Mukkabir. He said that Israeli forces arrived at his house and told him that he had four hours to demolish the house, or else they would demolish it and force him to pay 45,000 shekels ($12,700) in demolition fees. He said he had to rent a bulldozer to demolish the house, as Israeli police surrounded the area, and he was forced to pay $10,000 for the cost of police forces who surrounded the area. Mashahra had been living in the house for three years with his wife and three-month old daughter.

An Israeli police spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.

From Ma'an News Agency, Feb. 5.

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