Palestinians forced to demolish own homes

f13-iconAl Jazeera reports: For the past two months, Hamzah Abu Terr has slept on the floor of his home. He gave his bed to his three small children whose room he was forced to destroy earlier this year, to avoid large demolition fines issued by the Israeli municipality.

“I had no choice,” said Hamzah, sitting on the couch at his home in East Jerusalem next to his eldest daughter. “It was either my hands or their bulldozers.”

The single father received a demolition order in 2001, after the extension – a kitchen and bedroom – to his one-room house was deemed illegal by the Jerusalem municipality. He spent the next 12 years fighting the order in Israeli courts, paying more than 100,000 shekels ($28,775) in fees and fines. He even had to sell his now ex-wife’s jewellery.

“I could not fight it anymore. I had to destroy it myself,” Hamzah told Al Jazeera. “The kids can’t understand this: Their father destroyed their room. They were angry, sad… confused.”

This pattern of illegal construction and demolition is common throughout East Jerusalem. According to the United Nations, a set of discriminatory laws, polices and practices applied to Palestinian residents makes building “legally” next to impossible. [Continue reading…]

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