Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Arabs riot as Illegal homes demolished

Jerusalem Municipality wreckage crews on Wednesday demolished two illegally built Arab home in east Jerusalem, prompting skirmishes in the area throughout the afternoon, police said.

The court-ordered demolition in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, which was carried out under heavy police guard, quickly erupted into violence after dozens of local residents pelted police with stones and hurled a firebomb at police, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.

Police responded by firing stun grenades to disperse the crowd. There were no casualties reported in the two-hour altercation.

Later, some of the residents barricaded themselves in one of the homes slated to be torn down, but eventually agreed to leave the building, furniture in hand, after lengthy negotiations with police.

The city said that the two homes, one of which was inhabited, were built in "green areas" where construction is forbidden, and that they were both razed by court-order after appeals against their demolition were turned down.

Since the beginning of the year, the municipality has carried out 108 demolitions, including 78 in east Jerusalem and 30 in west Jerusalem, the city said in a statement.

Palestinians and left-wing Israelis complain that is difficult for Arabs to obtain building permits in Jerusalem, forcing them to build illegally, while the municipality insists it is evenhanded in enforcing building codes in all parts of the city.

The issue of Arab house demolitions is especially explosive in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as the capital of their future state.[...]

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