Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

Occupied Jerusalem
The Israeli high court of justice has given the green light to demolish 13 large apartment buildings in Sur Baher town, southeast Jerusalem, an area which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

The buildings threatened with demolition consist of about 100 housing units

This court ruling sets a precedent that will enable the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) to demolish thousands of buildings in the West Bank.

The Wadi Hummus neighborhood is located on the edge of Sur Baher, in southeast Jerusalem. Unlike the rest of the village, this neighborhood lies beyond the city's municipal boundaries, in the West Bank. Most of the area it occupies is designated as part of Area A, which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

But after local residents submitted a petition while the separation fence was being built, beginning in 2003, the location of the wall was moved so that it would not pass through the heart of Sur Baher. Thus Wadi Hummus ended up on the Israeli side of the barrier, although legally it is considered to be part of the West Bank and under the PA's control, according to Haaretz newspaper.

Haaretz quoted Sur Baher residents as saying that "Wadi Hummus is the only area that remains for future expansion of the village, which is surrounded by the fence and Jewish neighborhoods. Many buildings were erected in the neighborhood over the last decade or so, most occupied by young couples and families from the village. The buildings set for demolition have some 100 apartments, 20 of which are tenanted and the rest are under construction.

Building permits for the construction were issued by the PA's planning ministry. However, seven years ago, the Israel army's central command issued an injunction banning construction of buildings within 250 meters of the separation barrier. Locals say the order was not publicized and they had no knowledge of it, and that in any case, it is the PA that has planning authorization in the area.

Two years ago, the army issued demolition orders for 13 new buildings constructed in the area mentioned in the injunction. Residents appealed to the Israeli high court, reiterating that the army does not have the authority to demolish buildings that received building permits from the PA, that the order was not publicized and that they built their homes without knowing that the Israeli army had prohibited it.