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Jerusalem engineer wants to demolish Palestinian homes for national park

2005-05-31 15:31:00

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JERUSALEM (AP) - The Jerusalem municipality will push ahead with plans to demolish 88 homes in an Arab neighbourhood in the disputed city to make room for a national park, the city engineer overseeing the project told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The plan has infuriated the Palestinians. It comes at a time of growing Israeli-Palestinian tension over the fate of Jerusalem, a city claimed by both as a capital. The demolition campaign, if approved, would be one of the largest in east Jerusalem since Israel captured the traditionally Arab sector in the 1967 Mideast war.

At issue is the Arab neighbourhood of Silwan, just outside the walled Old City and close to key holy sites, such as Islam's Al Aqsa Mosque and Judaism's Western Wall.

City engineer Uri Shetrit said nearly all homes in the part of Silwan marked for demolition had been built in violation of zoning regulations and that courts already issued demolition orders against one-third of the 88 homes. Once the houses are razed, the park will be established "as soon as possible," he added.

Shetrit said the idea is to restore a biblical-era feel to the area that used to be covered with date and chestnut trees.

Palestinian officials warned that violence could flare over house demolitions in Arab neighbourhoods. In the past, disputes over Jerusalem have sparked large-scale Israeli-Palestinian fighting, including the current round that began in 2000.

Shetrit said the area of Silwan targeted for demolition had been declared a "green zone" by Israel in 1974. He said all but seven of the 88 homes were built in the past 12 years, and that the municipality has aerial photos to back up its claim.

Palestinian homeowners said many of the homes in the area were built at least 20 years ago.

Under city regulations, houses built without permits, but older than seven years, cannot be demolished. Shetrit acknowledged that because of this provision, the city would not be able to destroy many of the targeted homes. However, he said residents can be evicted from illegally built houses - and that it is easier to raze homes that stand empty.

"It is my authority and responsibility to enforce the law," Shetrit told AP in a telephone interview. "What would happen in a situation that I didn't act and there was an earthquake or flood and people were killed? Then you would say that the city engineer didn't carry out his responsibility and is a criminal."

http://www.cbc.ca/cp/world/050601/w060130.html

==========
Aljazeera's Coverage
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/C14D80DD-865F-4374-884F-09A918267E09.htm
==========
Israel to demolish Jerusalem homes

Wednesday 01 June 2005, 1:39 Makka Time, 22:39 GMT

Saeb Erekat has warned against demolitions in Jerusalem
Related:
Rabbi convicted for blocking demolition
Israeli building idea snubs peace plan
Stir over Palestinian church land sale

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The Jerusalem municipality wants to demolish 88 homes in an Arab neighbourhood of the city to make room for an archaeological park.

If the courts approve the municipality's request, it will be one of the largest demolitions since Israel captured traditionally Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war, and would cause an uproar among Palestinians who claim that part of the city as a future capital.



Aljazeera has quoted Palestinian Negotiations Minister Saeb Erekat as calling for the international community and the Quartet's immediate intervention to prevent the Israeli authorities from carrying out the demolitions.



The 88 homes are located in east Jerusalem's Arab neighbourhood of Silwan, just outside the walled Old City, an area steeped in biblical history.



The municipality wants to enlarge a small archaeological site beside the homes and turn the area into a national park, the Haaretz newspaper quoted Uri Shetrit, the Jerusalem city engineer, as saying.



Connect



The park would connect several Jewish settlement enclaves in Silwan to the nearby City of David - an area of excavations dating to the biblical King David.



In November, Shetrit wrote a letter to the director of the city's construction department, describing the "national and international importance" of 5000-year-old-archaeological shards discovered in the area.



The 88 homes are located in east
Jerusalem's Silwan locality

In light of the discoveries, "I order the removal of all illegal construction in the King's Valley," Shetrit wrote in the letter, referring to the area by its Jewish name.



Shetrit, who was not available for comment on Tuesday, wrote that the law permits the demolitions because the homes were built on land designated in 1977 as a "green area" where no construction was allowed.



In February, Silwan resident Mohammed Bardan, 43, received an order to appear in court. The order states the municipality's intention to demolish his home because it is on land designated as "open public territory".



1967 recalled



Bardan said his home was built by his father in 1961 - six years before Israel captured the area. Pulling out reams of documents - including a tattered, yellowed Ottoman-era deed to the property - Bardan points to the road in front of his house, recalling the day Israeli soldiers first walked down the block in 1967.



"I was born here, my life is here. It may not be the fanciest place, it's actually the smelliest place in the city, but I want to stay in my house," Bardan said.



Sami Arshid, Bardan's attorney, said he represents five residents who own the oldest homes in the area, some built more than 40 years ago. At least another 15 people in the neighbourhood have also received orders to appear in court, Arshid said.



Jerusalem is at the heart of the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict

A decision is expected in Bardan's case on 3 July, and will likely set the precedent for the rest.



Bardan retired from the Jerusalem municipality's sanitation department 18 months ago.



He says his payback for 20 years of loyal service is the demolition - which according to court documents he would have to pay for.



The municipality acknowledged in court that it is barred from demolishing homes built without permits if they are more than seven years old, according to court documents.



However, the homeowners could be barred from residing in the buildings.



"The building offence runs out, but there's no statute of limitations on using the illegal house, so we can bar residents from entering their homes even if we can't destroy them," Haaretz quoted Shetrit as saying.



Hopes



He said he hoped it would be easier to demolish an abandoned house later on.



Palestinians and Israeli human-rights groups have said Israel is using zoning and other administrative tools to keep a lid on Palestinian population growth in Jerusalem.



Palestinians have complained that it is often difficult for them to obtain building permits in East Jerusalem, and that they have no choice but to build illegally.



Israelis and Palestinians both claim Jerusalem as their capital, and the city's fate is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



"We are getting rid of 21st-century human beings to make room for 3000-year-old memories"

Danny Seidemann,
Israeli human-rights activist
Danny Seidemann, an Israeli human-rights activist, said that the demolition would be one of the largest since 1967 in a single area of Jerusalem.



He said that about 160 homes were destroyed in 2004, but that they were spread across all Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.



In Silwan, "the intention of the municipality is very clear, and that is to rid the area of its Palestinian residents," said Seidemann, who heads Ir Amim, a Jerusalem settlement-watchdog group.



"We are getting rid of 21st century human beings to make room for 3000-year-old memories," Seidemann said, adding that the municipality suffers from "moral autism".



"I don't fault the authorities for seeing the archaeological artifacts as of enormous importance to the Jewish people, but I do fault them for being blind to the human reality of this Palestinian neighbourhood," Seidemann said.
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    2005-12-29 09:45:00
  • Shia family murdered by Sunni insurgents: police
    2005-12-29 09:44:00
  • Two suicide attacks in Mideast leave 8 dead
    2005-12-29 06:47:00
  • Catholic patriarch calls for dismantling of Israel's security wall
    2005-12-24 18:02:00
  • New threats of violence in Indonesia
    2005-12-24 06:42:00
  • US confirms monitoring Muslim homes
    2005-12-24 06:40:00
  • European arrest warrants issued for 22 purported CIA agents in alleged kidnap
    2005-12-23 08:03:00
  • Rare 1st edition of King James Bible surfaces in Manitoba
    2005-12-22 11:06:00
  • Church urges PM to demand withdrawal of troops from Iraq
    2005-12-22 10:26:00
  • Israel threatens to cut Gaza power
    2005-12-22 09:43:00
  • Israel, Palestinians argue over tourist access to Bethlehem
    2005-12-22 07:30:00
  • Row builds over Jerusalem voting
    2005-12-21 07:10:00
  • Elections may be cancelled if Israel bars Palestinian in Jerusalem from vote
    2005-12-21 07:07:00
  • Serbs on trial for Srebrenica massacre
    2005-12-20 11:26:00
  • Israeli court upholds guerrilla's right to claim compensation for torture
    2005-12-20 10:36:00
  • Scholar: There is no clash of civilisations
    2005-12-20 08:11:00
  • Iraq election body rejects fraud claims
    2005-12-20 08:02:00
  • Iran warns Israel of swift retaliation
    2005-12-20 08:01:00
  • Final results in Iraqi election delayed; officials probe widespread complaints
    2005-12-20 07:27:00
  • Suspected CIA flight landed at Gander: report
    2005-12-19 12:14:00
  • Police investigating Sydney race riots find pistol, ammunition in house raids
    2005-12-19 08:47:00
  • Life returns to Palestinian village
    2005-12-15 07:34:00
  • US 'must fight for Palestine'
    2005-12-15 07:24:00
  • UK rules out public inquiry into London transit bombing
    2005-12-14 12:18:00
  • Progressive Muslim MeetUps
    2005-12-14 10:18:00
  • Rare Islamic texts to go online
    2005-12-14 09:12:00
  • Israel approves building of hundreds of new homes in West Bank
    2005-12-14 07:00:00
  • Iranian president calls Holocaust a 'myth'
    2005-12-14 07:00:00
  • Calls grow to free Iraq hostages
    2005-12-13 12:30:00
  • Investigator of alleged CIA prisons suspects abductions, illegal transfers
    2005-12-13 12:28:00
  • Who'd have thought it - Blinky Bill, the face of race hatred
    2005-12-12 19:57:00
  • Sons of beaches: a land girt by bigots
    2005-12-12 19:54:00
  • Alan Jones: I'm the person that's led this charge
    2005-12-12 19:52:00
  • Indonesia Muslims to guard churches
    2005-12-11 12:54:00
  • How a Belgian girl next door ended up a suicide bomber in Iraq
    2005-12-07 16:34:00
  • Muslim convert lashes out at teachers
    2005-12-07 16:31:00
  • U.S. bans use of torture
    2005-12-07 16:03:00
  • Muslim clerics demand release of captive Westerners
    2005-12-07 16:00:00
  • Rice says cruel interrogation barred, leaves questions about U.S. practices
    2005-12-07 15:58:00
  • Christian agency blames U.S. for kidnappings
    2005-11-30 09:33:00
  • Britain gags report that Bush targeted Arab TV
    2005-11-23 11:16:00
  • Memo: Bush wanted Aljazeera bombed
    2005-11-22 08:17:00
  • Emotional Democrat becomes latest symbol of gathering storm over Iraq
    2005-11-18 07:41:00
  • White House blamed for Iraq abuses
    2005-11-17 07:36:00
  • Iraqi group urges prison abuse inquiry
    2005-11-16 07:05:00
  • Starved, tortured prisoners found in Iraqi cell
    2005-11-15 11:29:00
  • Failed Jordan hotel bomber had three brothers killed by U.S. forces in Iraq
    2005-11-15 08:16:00
  • EU to investigate allegations of secret CIA prisons
    2005-11-03 15:06:00
  • Low-altitude flights over Gaza a form of punishment: doctors' groups
    2005-11-03 15:05:00
  • CIA running secret prison system: report
    2005-11-02 13:10:00
  • CSIS head says Iraq war 'serious concern' for Canada's safety
    2005-10-31 20:16:00
  • U.S. soldiers accused of assaulting Afghan prisoners
    2005-10-31 12:55:00
  • Israeli defence minister: no peace with Palestinians in this generation
    2005-10-28 07:29:00
  • Iran's anti-Israel remarks: Arabs mum
    2005-10-27 12:28:00
  • Arar was tortured, inquiry fact-finder concludes
    2005-10-27 09:55:00
  • UN report says Volvo, DaimlerChrysler among those who paid Saddam kickbacks
    2005-10-27 09:33:00
  • Canada joins world in expressing dismay over Iranian leader's attack on Israel
    2005-10-27 08:26:00
  • Banish Iran from UN, Peres demands
    2005-10-27 08:25:00
  • Religious turbulence hits Indonesia
    2005-10-27 08:21:00
  • Guantanamo ordeal of Aljazeera cameraman
    2005-10-26 10:56:00
  • Relief workers warn winter could bring 2nd catastrophe to Pakistan quake zone
    2005-10-26 08:55:00
  • UN raises quake aid appeal
    2005-10-26 08:26:00
  • 4 dead in blast at Israeli market
    2005-10-26 08:14:00
  • Israel fires missiles into Gaza
    2005-10-25 07:45:00
  • Spain issues warrant for U.S. soldiers
    2005-10-19 13:32:00
  • Israel Supreme Court bans military use of Palestinian civilians as 'shields'
    2005-10-06 09:24:00
  • Israel accused of skewing elections
    2005-10-03 12:06:00
  • Aljazeera cameraman 'asked to spy'
    2005-09-26 09:17:00
  • Billions plundered from Iraq military
    2005-09-22 08:20:00
  • Israel repeats threat to hamper polls
    2005-09-21 07:35:00
  • Israeli Arabs cannot be 'terror victims'
    2005-08-31 13:07:00
  • Israel orders Palestinian land seized
    2005-08-29 07:25:00
  • Reuters demands cameraman be freed
    2005-08-29 07:23:00
  • US televangelist wants Chavez killed
    2005-08-23 07:37:00
  • US church rebukes Israel for barrier
    2005-08-17 10:51:00
  • Settler-funding a billion dollar question
    2005-08-17 10:49:00
  • Gaza evacuation begins; Israeli gunman kills 3 in West Bank
    2005-08-17 09:28:00
  • Iraqi civilian casualties
    2005-08-09 12:54:00
  • Jewish settler kills 4 Arab Israelis on bus
    2005-08-05 04:15:00
  • West Bank barrier a violation of Israel's rights obligations: UN experts
    2005-08-04 07:33:00
  • Israel to expand West Bank settlement even as it quits Gaza Strip
    2005-08-04 07:26:00
  • Al-Qaida's deputy threatens more attacks in Britain in videotape
    2005-08-04 07:12:00
  • Hate crimes against U.K. Muslims soar
    2005-08-03 13:46:00
  • Straw admits UK part of Iraq problem
    2005-08-02 07:21:00
  • Jewish leaders worried by escalating Israel-Vatican spat over terror
    2005-07-29 10:24:00
  • MI5 links bomb attacks to Iraq war
    2005-07-29 09:02:00
  • Palestinians protest Gaza smokescreen
    2005-07-28 07:47:00
  • Israeli forces kill teenager in Jenin
    2005-07-28 07:14:00
  • CSIS denies imam's charge
    2005-07-28 07:07:00
  • Italian court issues arrest warrants for more CIA agents
    2005-07-25 13:53:00
  • Man shot by U.K. police not connected to bomb attacks
    2005-07-24 00:43:00
  • Settlers kill W Bank boy, witnesses say
    2005-07-20 13:57:00
  • Britain's alliance with U.S. puts it at risk of terrorism, think tank says
    2005-07-18 09:29:00
  • Report ties London bombs to Iraq war
    2005-07-18 09:27:00
  • Geneva Convention not for al-Qaeda, U.S. court says
    2005-07-15 16:32:00
  • Dozens killed in Iraq violence
    2005-07-15 09:44:00
  • Many killed in Iraq violence
    2005-07-15 09:42:00
  • Palestinian civilians die in Gaza battle
    2005-07-15 09:41:00
  • Angered by Iraq war, bombers driven to suicide attacks, say friends
    2005-07-15 09:39:00
  • Report: civilian deaths in Iraq far exceed those of military and police
    2005-07-14 11:01:00
  • Bloody Week in Iraq; One US Airstrike Destroys an Ambulance............
    2005-07-13 15:35:00
  • Guantanamo inmate forced to wear bra, act like a dog: report
    2005-07-13 15:32:00
  • Ex-U.S. Marine: I Killed Civilians in Iraq
    2005-07-13 15:23:00
  • Top Israeli official says barrier meant to ensure Jewish majority in Jerusalem
    2005-07-11 11:17:00
  • Israel accused of redrawing borders
    2005-07-11 09:34:00
  • Thousands mark 10th anniversary of slaughter of almost 8,000
    2005-07-11 09:20:00
  • EU envoy says Jerusalem barrier raises humanitarian concerns
    2005-07-11 09:19:00
  • Israel razes Palestinian homes
    2005-07-05 11:04:00
  • Palestinians under attack from settlers
    2005-07-04 07:17:00
  • Israeli army seals off Gaza strip
    2005-06-30 06:57:00
  • Qur'an thrown in toilet by U.S. guards: ex-prisoner
    2005-06-28 11:04:00
  • NBC: Misjudging Aljazeera led to alert
    2005-06-28 07:30:00
  • Israel accused of covering up murders
    2005-06-27 13:30:00
  • Israeli military court convicts soldier in fatal shooting of British activist
    2005-06-27 07:21:00
  • US 'admits' torturing prisoners
    2005-06-24 09:03:00
  • Torture at Guantanamo Bay: UN investigators
    2005-06-23 11:08:00
  • Watchdog: Israeli military probe of Palestinian civilian
    2005-06-22 11:34:00
  • Israel signals renewed assassinations
    2005-06-22 11:33:00
  • Israel criticised over civilian casualties
    2005-06-22 11:32:00
  • The US war with Iran has already begun
    2005-06-20 09:33:00
  • Israel to build 700 new settler homes
    2005-06-20 09:12:00
  • Israeli, Palestinian killed in shootings
    2005-06-20 08:49:00
  • Israel to build sea barrier off Gaza
    2005-06-17 10:21:00
  • Jewish group wants Kazemi exhibit restored
    2005-06-13 10:50:00
  • No plans to close Guantanamo Bay, Cheney says
    2005-06-13 09:37:00
  • Russian envoy meets al-Sadr in Iraq
    2005-06-13 09:36:00
  • Saudis debate ban on women drivers
    2005-06-13 09:31:00
  • Palestinian militant groups step up threat to call off ceasefire
    2005-06-13 09:22:00
  • Outgoing chief warns extremist Jews could open fire during Gaza pullout
    2005-06-09 10:17:00
  • Rumsfeld blames Aljazeera over Iraq
    2005-06-06 13:38:00
  • Library removes Kazemi photos after complaint
    2005-06-06 13:26:00
  • Israeli army kills Islamic Jihad leader
    2005-06-06 10:33:00
  • US rejects calls to shut Guantanamo
    2005-06-06 09:48:00
  • U.S. admits abuses to Qur'an in Guantanamo
    2005-06-03 14:46:00
  • Religion, suicide terrorism link disputed in book
    2005-06-02 19:02:00
  • Israeli troops admit 'eye for eye' killing spree
    2005-06-02 19:00:00
  • War crimes court asked to investigate 7 suspects in Srebrenica execution video
    2005-06-02 18:51:00
  • Bosnian mother turns on TV to see son executed in Srebrenica massacre video
    2005-06-02 18:50:00
  • Outrage greets new Israeli military chief
    2005-06-02 14:12:00
  • Afghan mosque bombed, killing at least 20 and wounding dozens
    2005-05-31 15:42:00
  • Jerusalem engineer wants to demolish Palestinian homes for national park
    2005-05-31 15:31:00
  • Israel strikes Gaza refugee camp
    2005-05-29 16:09:00
  • Probe finds 5 cases of Qur'an 'mishandling' at Guantanamo Bay, commander says
    2005-05-26 07:18:00
  • Nuclear treaty members fail to reach consensus as UN conference winds down
    2005-05-26 07:09:00
  • Nuclear debate turns heat on Israel
    2005-05-26 07:07:00
  • Report slams Israeli, US rights abuses
    2005-05-26 02:23:00
  • FBI memo tells of Quran incident
    2005-05-26 00:34:00
  • U.S. quietly drops historic arms-control deals from brochure on disarmament
    2005-05-25 04:02:00
  • Amnesty likens Guantanamo Bay to 'gulag'
    2005-05-25 02:15:00
  • Watchdog slams Israel rights abuse
    2005-05-25 01:07:00
  • Amnesty International takes aim at U.S. in annual human rights report
    2005-05-25 00:33:00
  • Israeli troops face murder accusations
    2005-05-25 00:32:00
  • Iraqi patriarch slams US evangelicals
    2005-05-24 02:00:00
  • Israel comes first, says US politician
    2005-05-24 01:57:00
  • Protests mar Sharon's New York trip
    2005-05-22 22:57:00
  • UN says reported U.S. abuse of Afghan prisoners is "utterly unacceptable"
    2005-05-22 01:25:00
  • UN panel scolds Canada over U.S. deportation of Ottawa man to Syria
    2005-05-20 06:18:00
  • British protest reported Quran abuse
    2005-05-20 06:02:00
  • US probes Afghan prison torture
    2005-05-20 03:53:00
  • White House says U.S. suffered lasting damage from Newsweek article
    2005-05-19 04:47:00
  • Muslim woman demands apology from Amazon.com after receiving defiled Qur’an
    2005-05-19 04:37:00
  • 'The West should wash its hands of Karimov'
    2005-05-19 04:35:00
  • Israelis grilled in al-Aqsa attack plot
    2005-05-16 02:14:00
  • Tensions between U.S. and Muslims reaching new highs, say analysts
    2005-05-12 03:20:00
  • South American, Arab leaders endorse declaration on Israel and trade
    2005-05-12 03:17:00
  • US Palestine policy called hypocritical
    2005-05-11 07:17:00
  • Gaza pullout diverting media gaze
    2005-05-11 02:16:00
  • Troops kill 2 at protest over Qur'an desecration
    2005-05-11 02:11:00
  • Blix says U.S. actions suggest it's not committed to nuclear 'bargain'
    2005-05-10 04:53:00
  • Stop enrichment, Blix tells Israel, Iran
    2005-05-10 04:52:00
  • Afghans protest reported desecration of Qur'an at US jail in Guantanamo
    2005-05-10 04:51:00
  • Pro-Israel bias found in US TV news
    2005-05-10 02:18:00
  • EU's Top Human Rights Org calls the US to stop the Guantanmo Bay Abuse
    2005-05-02 07:57:00
  • More Islam Muslim News Articles & Comments

    Facts About Islam

    Muslims Don't Have A Different God

    Many people think Muslims believe in their own god called "Allah" but the literal translation is just "God".  Muslims believe there is one god and one true creator and that it is the very same god the Christians and Jews believe in.
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