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Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15

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Home Demolitions

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Table of houses and constructions demolished in East Jerusalem during 2012 for lack of construction permits:-

Table of houses and constructions demolished in East Jerusalem during 2011 for lack of construction permits:-

Table of houses and constructions demolished in East Jerusalem during 2010 for lack of construction permits:-

Table of houses and constructions demolished in East Jerusalem during 2009 for lack of construction permits:-

Housing and house demolition:

According to Art. 25 p.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and for his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

Moreover, Art. 11 p. 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights reads that "The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions."

Art. 49 of the IV GC, stipulates that "Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive."

UN SC resolution 298 of Sept. 25, 1971 confirmed that "all legislative and administrative actions taken by Israel to change the status of the city of Jerusalem, including expropriation or land and properties, transfer of populations and legislation aimed at the incorporation of the occupied section, are totally invalid and cannot change the status.

UN SC resolution 465 of March 1, 1980, stipulates "that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof have no legal validity."

Since its occupation of Jerusalem, Israel confiscated more than 35% of land for the interest of Jewish settlement activities. It also categorized 22% of Jerusalem land as green areas, left 30% of land without planning and only 13% was considered planned for Palestinian construction.

Heavy Israeli restrictions are imposed on building permits for Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

On the Palestinian side, the responsibility for construction planning lies on the individual himself, while in the Israeli side almost 20 ministries work on construction in additional to non-official organizations that are active in settlement activities.

Palestinians in Jerusalem are in urgent need for 10,000 housing units and 5000 housing units per year to cope with their rate of population growth, yet the Municipality issued only 18 construction permits in 2008, according to deputy mayor for East Jerusalem affairs Yakir Segev. However, among the 18 permits, one license was for building retaining walls for Yousfiyeh Moslem cemetery. This means that not all permits were issued for housing units for the Arab population of Jerusalem. In 2009, Palestinians applied for 254 construction permit, but the municipality issued 135 permit including 367 housing units, according to Jerusalem municipality. According to Mayor Nir Barkat, "Greater Jerusalem" needs 50,000 housing units of which one third is needed for the Arab sector.

A fee of $25,000 - $30,000 for obtaining a building permit is imposed by the Jerusalem Municipality.

Palestinians applying for a building permit usually have to wait for a period between 5 - 10 years before obtaining construction permits. Approved permits by the Municipality account for %5 of all applications in Jerusalem.

In 2009, Jerusalem Municipality collected NIS 17,710,00 in construction fines, knowing that there are thousands of Palestinians who are in debt for the Municipality and unable to pay their fines because of their economic hardships.

Since 1967, the number of houses demolished in Jerusalem amounts to 9,000, while between the years 2000 and 2008 alone 837 Palestinians homes were demolished. Currently, there are over 20,000 outstanding demolition orders pending against Palestinians homes in occupied Jerusalem, including 657 in Silwan neighborhood alone, according to the Municipality data.

In December 1997, Israeli authorities established a special police unit in charge of securing the demolitions of Palestinian homes.

According to data available to JCESR, in 2009, Israel demolished 88 Palestinian homes which used to provide shelter to some 528 individuals and issued demolition orders against at least 1550 Palestinian apartments, which means that some 9300 Palestinians are living under the threat of displacement.

Construction percentage for the Israelis in Jerusalem reaches 34% while it is 17% for the Palestinians.

In the past ten years, there were 788 construction plans for Jerusalem including 10 only for the Arab population in the city.

Amount of rent for an apartment in settlement enclaves in occupied Jerusalem reaches $400 while it is almost half the amount of rent in Palestinian neighborhoods.

In average, Israeli authorities demolish some 190 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem annually.

Until 2020, the Municipality slates 2600 dunums of land for the development of Arab population, although Palestinians need 5000 dunums of land for the development of educational sector alone. Meanwhile, 3400 dunums of land have been allocated for the development of settlers in East Jerusalem.

Factual statement

At the beginning of 1999, the Israeli Ministry of Interior warned that more than twenty thousand houses had been built illegally in East Jerusalem. The Municipality of Jerusalem issued 141 demolition orders in 1999 and 19 were carried out. All in all, 92 homes have been demolished since the Oslo agreement was signed, leading to the displacement of hundreds of people in the city.

Between 1967 and 1997, no more than 12 percent of all new buildings were built in Palestinian neighborhoods (most housing there was privately constructed), while the Israeli public sector constructed at least 40,000 housing units for Israeli Jews on expropriated land.

Planning and zoning restrictions

24.5 square kilometre, 35 percent of the total annexed area of East Jerusalem (70 square kilometre) is expropriated land. Theoretically, this leaves 45.5 square kilometre for Palestinian use. However, several methods are adopted by the Jerusalem Municipality to severely limit this number.

East Jerusalem: expropriated areas, planned areas, and areas currently available for residential construction:

  • 35% area expropriated by the Israeli government;

  • 23% unplanned areas;

  • 17% planning in progress;

  • 25% planned areas, plan approved of which 7.3% is currently available for residential construction.

Land distribution and zoning designations in East Jerusalem as determined by the municipal authorities:

Source: IrShalem (1998) East Jerusalem; The current planning situation

Most land for Palestinian use is restricted. Two techniques are used, namely the 'Blue line' and 'Green area'. Only on land within the blue line can be built. In general, the blue areas are synonymous with the areas that have already been built on. 'Green area' is land set aside to preserve it for environmental or recreational purposes. However, in fact it is a zoning tactic to remove the land from use by Palestinian owners and to hold it as reserve for Jewish housing. This was, for example, the case at Jabal Abu Ghneim. Initially defined as 'Green area' to prevent the neighbouring Palestinian villages of Sur Baher and Umm Tuba from expanding, Jabal Abu Ghneim was subsequently rezoned for residential construction of the new Jewish settlement of Har Homa.

A Town Planning Scheme (TPS) is a precondition for land within the blue lines to be developed although this is already built-up area. Normally, it ensures adequate and efficient development of an area in line with the overall planning goals of the Municipality. However, in the case of East Jerusalem, TPS has been used as a means of restricting Palestinian development by minimising the scope of TPS in Palestinian areas, delaying their implementation or simply failing to draw up a TPS for the majority of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem. Over a third of East Jerusalem lacks TPS. For the Israeli settlements in this part of the city, the state takes the responsibility for reparcelling the lands, allocating funds, as well as hiring the planners and architects necessary to put the TPS together. The development projects in Palestinian neighbourhoods, all costs and resources needed to draw up a TPS fall on the Palestinians themselves. Furthermore, submitting a complete TPS does not mean that the Municipality automatically approves. From 1978 to 1996 only thirteen plans in Palestinian neighbourhoods have been approved. Even when approved, a plan is often not implemented. After expropriations, 'Green areas', and land that lacks TPS, only seven percent of East Jerusalem is left for Palestinian building.

"It was reported that at a meeting of the Jerusalem Regional Planning Committee, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert has said that the most important task in the coming years was to increase the numbers of the Jewish inhabitants within the city limits. He had also said it was important to include 'Green areas' in the plan. He had made little mention of any particular vision to develop the eastern part of the city." (Jerusalem Post, 21 October 1999)

Building restrictions

Approved and implemented TPS limits the number of additional houses allowed to be built in Palestinian areas because of the demographic quota, and restrict the building percentages to low levels for Palestinian homes, namely to one or two floors, while Jewish housing units can go up to eight floors. In other words, different attitudes and conditions are being used by the authorities when it comes to planning in Palestinian and Jewish neighbourhoods. The policy for the latest is to promote and assist as much as possible in planning and building to settle the maximum number of people on a given piece of land, while for Palestinians it is exactly the opposite, namely confronting them with many obstacles and restrictions.

For construction to be legal, a building permit is required. As a result of zoning restrictions, recalcitrance on approval of TPS, and the difficulty of the planning process required by the Municipality, it is almost impossible for Palestinian landowners to obtain the necessary building permits to legally utilise their land for housing. The process of applying for such a permit is cumbersome, intrusive, time consuming, and expensive. In many cases the licensing process in East is more complex than in West Jerusalem due to problems relating to existing infrastructures and bureaucracy.

On average, the Municipality grants the Palestinians only 150 building permits per year. Even though they make up about 32 percent of the Jerusalem population, the number of building permits issued to Palestinians made up only 16.5 percent and 17.5 percent of the total number of permits issued in Jerusalem in the years 1997 and 1998. A building permit costs about US$ 25,000, which forms another restriction for many Palestinians as income levels differ considerably between East and West.

The Municipality also places restrictions on renovation works. JCSER estimates that there are 1,400 houses inside the walls of the Old City in desperate need of renovation at the moment.

Housing shortage and illegal building

As a consequence of the small percentage of space allowed for building, restrictions on building, the influx of Palestinians returning to Jerusalem and the demographic growth, there is a chronic lack of housing in Palestinian areas of Jerusalem and a high level of overcrowding. At the beginning of the 1990s, Palestinians in Jerusalem faced a shortage that exceeds 20,000 housing units. Since then, the gap in construction for the city's two populations has only increased.

Homes completed between 1990-1997 in Jerusalem:

The policy of obtaining building permits and the shortage of housing lead to large-scale 'illegal construction'. To battle against 'illegal construction', the Ministry of the Interior and the Jerusalem Municipality adopted several measures. These include: (i) imposing high fines; (ii) and a policy of demolishing 'illegal buildings' at various stages of construction, such as skeleton, foundations, and during the expansion of existing buildings. Demolition orders can be issued by the Municipality or by a court decision. The Municipality can carry out demolition orders within 24 hours. This short period of time makes it impossible for most residents to go to court and defend themselves. Demolition orders issued by the courts do give residents the opportunity to make appeal.

The Israeli authority's policy against 'illegal building' targets Palestinian areas disproportionately.

House demolition orders carried out in East Jerusalem between 1991 and 2000:

While nearly 300 Palestinian houses were demolished in Jerusalem between 1987 and 2000, in West Jerusalem some demolition orders were carried out, but only of an extra room or a porch, never a whole building like in Palestinian neighbourhoods. However, it is estimated that 84 percent of the building violations take place in the Jewish sector. While Palestinians are responsible for sixteen percent of the building violations, more than 60 percent of the demolitions are carried out on Palestinian houses.

Recent developments

During 2001, JCSER has documented an increase in violations of the right to housing. The biggest demolition campaign took place on July 9 in Shu'fat refugee camp. Israel demolished fourteen homes leaving their inhabitants homeless, many of them for the second time.

According to the Municipality, 191 out of 219 requests for building permits submitted in East Jerusalem were approved, while 1,087 out of 1,519 requests for building permits were granted in the rest of the city last year. Licenses for East Jerusalem were concentrated in South-East Jerusalem according to the Palestinian housing council and decreased compared to 2000. The decrease of the applications for building permits probably can be explained by the decreasing economic situation for most Palestinian Jerusalemites. Nowadays, the average cost of obtaining a permit is about US$ 20,000.

In East Jerusalem, 1117 buildings were built illegally in 2001 according to municipal information; the Municipality took legal procedures against 270 cases; 68 civil orders were sent to announce a demolition; 32 houses were actually demolished by the Municipality. These figures should be compared to the ones in West Jerusalem where 6051 buildings were built illegally in 2001; the Municipality took legal procedures against 760 cases; 8 civil orders were sent to demolish; 7 buildings were actually demolished by the Municipality. These were four tents; one kiosk; and two buildings, which were built on a cemetery.

These are only the demolitions of the Municipality. However, the Interior Ministry also demolishes homes. The estimated total number of homes demolished in East Jerusalem in 2001 is 51 buildings, which consists of 74 housing units.

In 2002, so far 24 houses have been demolished.

  • 2002: 24

    • January: 12

      • 14 January: 9 houses Issawiyya

      • 21 January: 1 house Old City

      • 23 January: 2 houses Beit Hanina

    • February: 7

      • 04 February: 2 houses Issawiyya

      • 06 February: 3 houses Beit Hanina

      • 19 February: 2 houses Um Tuba

      • 20 February: 4 houses Anata (wooden barracks belonging to Bedouin families just outside the Municipal boundaries)

    • March: 0

        05 March: 7 barracks to keep animals of 5 owners in Issawiyya (just outside the Municipal boundaries)

    • April: 0

    • May: 5

      • 06 May: 2 (parts of) houses Silwan

      • 21 May: 3 houses Beit Hanina

The Jerusalem municipality finance committee approved a NIS 2 million budget for illegal construction demolition for 2002. According to its own calculations of the costs - to the police and the contractor with the bulldozers - that works out to about 40 more houses to be demolished. This budget is twice last year's budget.


This housing policy resulted in a huge housing shortage in East Jeruaslem and a rise in rents, which forced many people outside the city. At this moment 2,000 demolition orders, affecting 12,000 housing units, are in effect for East Jerusalem. This means that over a third of East Jerusalem residents live under the threat of house demolition.

Legal statement

According to Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, the destruction of property is prohibited. This means that the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli Interior Ministry, which adopted a policy of demolishing homes in East Jerusalem since its illegal annexation, violate the Geneva Convention.

On 24 November 2001, the UN Committee Against Torture stated Israel's policy of demolishing Palestinian homes may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in breach of article 16 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Israel ratified in 1991.