JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — For the past two days, a Palestinian family in the neighborhood of Sur Bahir in the Jerusalem district of the occupied West Bank has been anticipating the worst after the Israeli central court rejected their appeal against a demolition order on their home on Thursday.
Ashraf Fawaqa told Ma’an that he had attempted to obtain an Israeli building license for six years following the construction of his home. He had to pay more than 200,000 shekels ($54,102) for various costs associated with postponing and extending Israeli demolition orders during this time, he said.
Fawaqa added that the Israeli municipality had decided to carry out the demolition at the start of last month without allowing any more postponements. However, after appealing to the Israeli central court, he was able to extend the demolition until March 2, while paying a postponement fee of 30,000 shekels ($8,115), in addition to court fees.
The court, however, rejected the appeal and approved the municipality’s decision to demolish the house on Thursday. Fawaqa said that their lawyer had requested that the demolition be postponed for several months owing to the fact that his wife had just given birth four days ago.
The lawyer also presented evidence to the court showing the effort the family had put into obtaining permits for the house. Nonetheless, the judge decided that the family should pay 30,000 shekels ($8,115) in demolition fees for Israeli crews that would carry out the demolition over the coming days.
According to Fawaqa, the judge did not provide a specific date. He added that the municipality had also previously imposed a fine on the family of 60,000 shekels ($16,230) which they had already paid.
Fawaqa noted that his house was 100 square meters, which six family members currently reside in, including Fawaqa, his wife, and their four children. The oldest child is eight years old, while the youngest is just four days old.
A spokesperson for the Jerusalem Municipality was not immediately available for comment.
According to UN documentation, 1,601 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israeli authorities in 2016, with more than 168 demolitions being reported in the Palestinian territory since the start of 2017, displacing more than 276 Palestinians in just two months.