Is a school lesson plan widely used across Canada aimed at fighting racism like its promoters say or is it also a clever cover for defending Jewish/white supremacy in the Middle East?
A recent 12-page Canadian Jewish News insert about Elizabeth and Tony Comper raises the issue. According to the supplement, in 2005 the Bank of Montreal head and his wife Elizabeth started Fighting Anti-Semitism Together (FAST), a coalition of non-Jewish business leaders and prominent individuals. FAST sponsored a lesson plan for Grades 6 to 8 called “Choose Your Voice: Antisemitism in Canada”. Over 2.4 million students in 19,000 schools have been through the FAST program. A year ago FAST added Voices into Action, an anti-racism lesson for Canadian high schoolers that devotes a third of its plan to the Nazi Holocaust in Europe.
Unfortunately, FAST does not appear to be an example of business leaders struggling for social justice. Rather, it’s part of what Norman Finkelstein dubbed the “Holocaust Industry”, which exploits historical Jewish suffering to deflect criticism of Israeli expansionism.
In its “What We Stand For” FAST calls on Canadians “to speak out against all forms of bigotry, racism and hatred”, yet the Compers’ were honoured guests at a 2009 Jewish National Fund fundraiser in Toronto. Owner of 13 per cent of Israel’s land, the JNF discriminates against Palestinian–Arab citizens who make up a fifth of Israel’s population. (What would we think of anti-racist activists who attend KKK meetings?)
In a 2006 article titled “BMO head slams one-sided Israel critics” the Canadian Jewish News reported on FAST’s Quebec launch: “Singling out Israel for blame in the Middle East conflict, even by those of good faith, is fanning anti-Semitism, Bank of Montreal president Tony Comper says. It may not be the intent, but the effect of condemning Israel alone is providing justification for hatred of Jews in Canada and internationally, Comper warned more than 400 business executives. … In underscoring the serious threat of anti-Semitism worldwide, Comper suggested that ‘a second Holocaust’ is possible if Iran acquires nuclear arms and attacks Israel.” In his speech Comper cited CUPE Ontario and the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada’s support for boycotting Israel as spurring anti-Semitism.
FAST supporters include a who’s who of the corporate elite: President TD Bank, Ed Clark; CEO of CN, Hunter Harrison; CEO of Manulife Financial, Dominic D’Allessandro; CEO of Bombardier, Laurent Beaudoin; president of Power Corporation, André Desmarais; President RBC Financial, Gordon M. Nixon and many others.
According to the Canadian Jewish News supplement, the Toronto couple also sponsored the Elizabeth and Tony Comper Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism at the University of Haifa in Israel. The Center operates an online Ambassadors Program, which reports the paper, “gives students intellectual material and technical skills to combat online the global boycott, divestment and sanctions anti-Israel movement.”
The supplement was partly sponsored by Larry and Judy Tanenbaum. Larry was one of a half-dozen rich right-wing donors that scrapped the hundred-year-old Canadian Jewish Congress in 2011 and replaced it with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. As the name change suggests, this move represented a shift towards ever greater lobbying in favour of Israeli nationalism.
The Compers provided over $500 000 to the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Established in 2008, Larry and Ken Tanenbaum gave the U of T five million dollars and helped raise more than ten million more for the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies.
Andrea and Charles Bronfman gave over $500 000 to the Anne Tanenbaum Centre, which has close ties with the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies. In 1997 the Bronfman family provided $1.5 million to create an Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies at the U of T. “Fifty years after its rebirth, the miracle of modern Israel is of broad interest,” said Charles Bronfman at the launch.
The long-standing Zionist family put up $1 million to establish a Jewish Studies program at Concordia two years later. An orchestrator of opposition to Palestinian solidarity activism at the Montreal university through the 2000s, Concordia Jewish studies professor Norma Joseph was also “instrumental” in setting up the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies. In 2011 multi billionaire David Azrieli gave Concordia $5 million to establish the first minor in Israel Studies at a Canadian university. After attending an Association for Israel Studies’ conference organized by the Azrieli Institute, prominent anti-Palestinian activist Gerald Steinberg described the Institute as part of a “counterattack” against pro-Palestinian activism at Concordia.
The Israeli nationalist tilt of McGill’s Jewish studies is actually inscribed in a major funding agreement. In 2012 the estate of Simon and Ethel Flegg contributed $1 million to McGill’s Jewish Studies department partly for an “education initiative in conjunction with McGill Hillel.” But, Hillel refuses to associate with Jews (or others) who “delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the state of Israel.”
The individuals driving Jewish studies and anti-Semitism lessons in Canada overwhelmingly back Jewish/white supremacy in the Middle East and encourage the most aggressive ongoing European settler colonialism.
Unfortunately, support for anti-Palestinian racism, along with colonialism and western imperialism, makes one question their “anti-racism” credentials.
Yves Engler is the author of Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.
In another example of the lengthy sentencing practices especially targeting Palestinian youth and women in Jerusalem, Shorouq Dwayyat was sentenced to 16 years in Israeli prison by a Jerusalem court on Sunday, 25 December. Dwayyat, 19, from the village of Sur Baher, was also fined 80,000 NIS (approximately $21,000.) She was shot by an Israeli settler and seized by occupation forces on 7 October 2015 in eastern Jerusalem and accused of attempting to stab an Israeli settler. Witnesses reported that she was harassed by the settler prior to the alleged incident.
Dwayyat is a student at Bethlehem University who was studying history and geography. She graduated from high school, achieving a result of 90% in the national secondary Tawjihi examinations in 2015.
Classes at the university were cancelled for two days after her shooting and arrest in October 2015.
Dwayyat was severely injured by the four bullets lodged within her body, unlike the Israeli man she was accused of attempting to stab, who suffered no serious injuries. Following the court’s ruling, the Israeli Interior Ministry stripped the imprisoned Dwayyat of her Jerusalem residency, claiming “breach of trust,” using the case as a mechanism to further the Israeli state policy of attacking Palestinian existence in Jerusalem. Amjad Abu Assab of the Prisoners’ Committee in Jerusalem said that “this is a racist policy… with the aim of killing the spirit of challenge by Jerusalemites and preventing any manifestation of rejection of occupation in the occupied city of Jerusalem.”
She is one of 52 Palestinian women – including 12 minor girls – imprisoned in HaSharon and Damon Israeli prisons and now is serving one of the longest sentences. The longest-held Palestinian woman prisoner, Lena Jarbouni, is serving a 17-year sentence in Israeli prison. The recent trend of particularly elevated sentences include those against Maysoon Musa (15 years), Nurhan Awad (13.5 years) and Israa Jaabis (11 years).
Stop worshipping Israel, learn the ugly truth … and find a new speechwriter!
This is still a Christian country, as your colleague David Cameron reminded us not so long ago. But you wouldn’t think so when non-Christian creeds are given exceptional protection and privileges to smooth their ruffled feathers. Your government is even introducing new laws to stifle questions about Israel’s legitimacy and quash criticism of its criminal policies. We have entered a sinister era of censorship and harassment as the gulf between government and public widens.
In an excruciating speech to a Conservative Friends of Israel lunch earlier this month, you told 800 guests that the British government will be marking the centenary of the infamous Balfour Declaration next year “with pride”. Yet that ill-conceived letter by the British foreign secretary caused a running sore in the Middle East that has lasted a hundred years. And Britain’s failure to make amends continues to endanger the whole region and cause grief for millions.
You said some astonishing things too about Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine. For example, Britain stands “very firmly” for a two-state solution and the two sides must “sit down together, without preconditions, and work towards that lasting solution”. It is plain to nearly everyone that this futile and lopsided mantra is a ploy designed to buy Israel all the time it needs to establish enough irreversible ‘facts on the ground’ to ensure permanent annexation. But like all leaders before, you go along with it, And you’re careful not to mention that international law has already spoken and it’s high time for enforcement – or sanctions.
There seems little comprehension among you and your colleagues of the consequences for the Middle East, and indeed the whole world, if Israel is allowed to achieve its ambition to expand its borders to the Nile and the Euphrates.
You even praise Israel for being “a thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance”, when it is obviously neither. Maybe an ethnocracy, or a theocracy, but certainly no liberal democracy. As for your remark that it is only when you walk through Jerusalem or Tel Aviv that you see a country where people of all religions “are free and equal in the eyes of the law” and “Israel guarantees the rights of people of all religions, races and sexualities, and it wants to enable everyone to flourish”, have you ever walked through East Jerusalem?
What really offends me, though, is your belief that our two countries share “common values”. That’s straight out of Tel Aviv’s hasbara instruction manual. And it is deeply insulting to anyone who lives by Christian values, which are alien to the Israeli regime given its crimes against humanity and cruelty to the indigenous people it terrorises. I don’t suppose too many British people feel they have much in common with a criminal foreign power that tortures children.
However, the speech did provide mild amusement when you unwisely attacked the successful BDS campaign – that’s boycott, divestment and sanctions – calling it wrong and unacceptable and warning that your government would “have no truck with those who subscribe to it”. Two hundred legal scholars and practising lawyers from 15 European countries promptly slapped you down in a statement that BDS is a lawful exercise of freedom of expression and outlawing it undermines a basic human right. One expert pointed out that advocating for BDS is part of the fundamental freedoms protected by the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. Another said BDS is civil society’s response to the international community’s irresponsible failure to act. Repressing it amounts to support for Israel’s violations of international law and a failure to honour the solemn pledge by states to ‘strictly respect the aims and principles of the Charter of the United Nations’.
Of course, if your Israeli friends don’t like BDS, they only have to comply with international law like everyone else, get back behind Israel’s internationally recognised borders and leave the Palestinians alone.
Just think for a moment about the shredded remnants of Palestine, the endless misery in Gaza and the obscene 8-metre wall with gun towers imprisoning Bethlehem and its Christian community – all courtesy of Israel. Remember that in their 2014 blitz on Gaza Israel killed more than 500 children, injured 3,374, left more than 1,500 orphaned and 373,000 in need of psycho-social support.
There are 1.75 million people, including about 800,000 children under 15, packed into the tiny Gaza enclave with no escape. They have suffered horribly under Israeli blockade – a collective punishment which as you know is considered a war crime – for nearly 10 years. And your own ministers report that 90% of Gaza’s water is not fit even for agricultural use. The puzzle is why your government would have any truck with anyone who subscribes to an Israel fan club.
According to Wiki, you are the daughter of an Anglican priest and a regular churchgoer. The Holy Land is the well-spring of your religion, is it not? I wonder what the Good Lord, looking down on the hell-hole Balfour created and Western politicians have perpetuated, thinks of your performance this Christmas.
Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine can now be read on the internet by visiting radiofreepalestine.org.uk.
Israeli High Court Allows Ghaith-Sub Laban Family to Stay in Their Home of Six Decades for 10 Years more, but without Their Children
The Israeli High Court released late on Tuesday 20 December 2016 its decision regarding the Ghaith-Sub Laban eviction, in which the Court partially accepted the family’s appeal and stopping their eviction.
The decision keeps the family’s protected tenant status for 10 more years after which the family would be evicted and the house would be handed to the Israeli settler organization that requested their eviction.
The decision however limits the right to live in the house to Mrs. Nora Ghaith and her husband Mustafa Sub Laban without their children. The Court also excluded from its decision a small storage room for the family under the house which Israeli settlers can proceed in taking over.
The decision comes one day after the hearing held in front of the Israeli High Court yesterday in which the Court heard the family’s appeal against the eviction and the settler’s claims that the family abandoned their house years ago. During the hearing, the Court proposed a compromise to both parties under which the protected tenancy status would be limited to Nora and her husband and the family would be allowed to stay in the house as long as Nora and her husband live.
The settlers rejected the Court’s suggestion and instead proposed evicting the family and moving them to the small storage under the house which is no more than 20 squared meters in size.
The Court disregarded the settlers’ suggestion and ended the hearing only to come with this unjust decision the following day.
Nora Ghaith’s family rented the house located in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem in 1953 from the Jordanian Custodian of Public Property. She continued to live in the house after 1967 and currently lives in the house with her husband, her two sons Ahmad and Rafat, her daughter Lama as well as her daughter in law Ruba and two grandchildren Mustafa and Kenan aged 9 and 4.
Nora Ghaith-Sub Laban commented by saying that the Court simply acknowledged the settler’s claims that the house is abandoned and ruled to separate her family. As per the High Court’s decision, Nora will have to be separated from her grandchildren as well as her unmarried son and daughter.
In case the family refuses to comply with the Court’s decision, the settlers can file a new request to evict the family before the 10 years have passed.
Ahmad Sub Laban, journalist and human rights activist, further added that the Israeli High Court’s decision in fact evicts part of the family and keep another temporarily.
Israeli judiciary once again sustains the discrimination that Palestinians face, where Israeli settlers are allowed to reclaim property they allegedly owned pre 1948 whereas Palestinians are prohibited from the same.
Today we also witness how the Court ruled to separate a family by deciding who can live in the house and who cannot.
The Israeli High Court, as with all similar eviction or house demolition cases, have proved itself to be a partner to Israel’s settlement expansion policy and to settler’s ambition to take over as many houses in occupied East Jerusalem. This is simply legitimizing the Israeli occupation’s policies that violate international law and an endorsement of Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem after 1967.
JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities renewed a travel ban against a Palestinian woman from occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday, after she has already been banned from the Old City’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as well as from the occupied West Bank.
Khadija Khweis told a Ma’an that Israeli intelligence summoned her to Jerusalem’s Russian Compound police station, where she was handed a renewable one-month travel prohibition order signed by the Israeli Minister of Interior.
A previous one-month travel ban against Khweis had expired on Wednesday.
According to Khweis, the new order read that she was prevented from traveling for “security reasons.”
“They say I have connections with the Murabitat group and think I could travel on missions to promote them,” she said.
In addition to being banned from international travel, Khweis has been prohibited from traveling to the West Bank for six months, an order that she said was still effective.
Furthermore, Khweis is on Israel’s so-called “blacklist” created by Israeli police in August 2015 to deny dozens of Palestinians access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Israeli authorities have also revoked Khweis and her family’s national insurance allowance.
In December last year, Khweis was banned from the entirety of the Old City as well as West Jerusalem.
She was also among a number of Palestinian women who were assaulted by Israeli forces when they were denied entry to Al-Aqsa for their affiliation with the Murabitat, a group of women who gather at the compound to demonstrate against what they see as increasing Israeli control over the holy site and provocative visits by Israeli rightists under armed guard.
In September last year, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon outlawed the Murabitat and their male counterpart, the Murabitun.
The third holiest site in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.
The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem through detention campaigns targeting Palestinians, Israeli settlement construction, and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.
JERUSALEM – Israeli forces on Monday evening shot a Palestinian activist in the leg with a rubber-coated steel bullet during a raid in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Issawiya while he was attempting to take photos and video footage in the neighborhood, according to a local committee.
Members of a local follow-up committee in al-Issawiya told Ma’an that committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus was “documenting Israeli violations and provocations” when an Israeli soldier “threatened to shoot him in the head if he didn’t leave.”
Shortly after the threat was made against him, another soldier then shot a rubber-coated steel bullet at Abu al-Hummus from an approximate distance of 25 meters, hitting him in the leg.
Prior to the shooting, Israeli forces and police officers had stormed the town and deployed in its alleys “in a provocative manner,” started stopping drivers, and arbitrarily issued a number of traffic fines to locals, according to the committee.
After being informed of the forces’ arrival into the town, Abu al-Hummus began taking photos and writing notes about their activities.
An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
Israeli police and soldiers have come under heavy criticism over the past year for what rights groups have referred to as excessive use of force against Palestinians, including journalists and activists, who did not pose an immediate threat at the time they were injured.
(Photo credit: Ahmad Jalajil)
JERUSALEM – Israeli forces raided the Palestinian National Theatre in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah Thursday evening, preventing organizers from holding an event titled “Sing with Us” for allegedly being organized by the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in order to “sympathize with terrorists.”
Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli special forces, police, and intelligence raided the theater, also known as al-Hakawati Theater, during the event, which was organized by the Milad Fund for University Education.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevy signed an order on Thursday “to prevent holding a conference for the terrorist PFLP group,” citing Article 9 of the newly minted anti-terrorism law of 2016 — that members of Israel’s parliament have referred to as “draconian and unacceptable.”
“The chief’s decision was made after receiving intelligence information that the aforementioned terrorist group plans to hold a conference in order to sympathize with terrorists and other issues,” al-Samri’s statement continued.
“After the decision, a police unit headed to the designated place in East Jerusalem and prevented the holding of the conference without any exceptional incidents.”
The Israeli law, which was passed in June, includes a provision expanding the definition of terrorist organization membership to include “passive members” who are not actively involved in any group, but can now be indicted by Israeli authorities. It applies only inside Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, but not the occupied West Bank.
Head of the Joint List of Israel’s parliament Ayman Odeh said at the time of the legislation’s passage that it will damage Israel’s security cooperation with the PLO and Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, pointing out that Israel considers the majority of political parties within the PLO — including the PFLP — to be terrorist organizations.
For Palestinians, the PFLP — founded by a Christian doctor, George Habash — is the most popular political faction for secular leftists.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported last month that al-Hakawati, after operating for three decades as a leading cultural center for Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, faced closure by Israeli authorities as a result of unpaid bills to the Jerusalem municipality amounting to $150,000, citing Palestinian commentators who believed Israeli authorities were pressuring the theater in order to “marginalize Arabic cultural and arts institutions.”
(Photo credit: Ahmad Jalajil)
(Photo credit: Ahmad Jalajil)
(Photo credit: Ahmad Jalajil)
A PIC news correspondent said the IOF rolled into the An-Najah Campus dormitory in al-Maajin neighborhood, in western Nablus, and wreaked havoc on the apartment of lecturer Issam Rashed al-Ashqar, 57, before they kidnapped him and seized his car.
Al-Ashqar, an ex-prisoner, is a lecturer at the Physics Department at An-Najah University. He had previously been sentenced to several prison-terms, mostly in administrative detention, without charge or trial. He has also been diagnosed with health disorders.
The Israeli occupation army further kidnapped the two Palestinian citizens Amjad Abu Sbeih and Yazen al-Basiti from their own family homes in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The IOF stormed Jenin’s western towns of Anin and Zabouba and cracked down on Palestinian drivers in the eastern outskirts of the city.
A PIC reporter quoted eyewitnesses as stating that the IOF kidnapped the citizen Abdul Nasser Mohamed Yassin, 42, from Anin village after they ravaged his home and subjected the family to intensive questioning.
A military checkpoint was pitched by the IOF near the main entrance to Zabouba town.
The campaign culminated in the abduction of other Palestinians from Nablus, al-Khalil, and Bethlehem’s town of Beit Fajjar.
A controversial Israeli bill to silence the Muslim call to prayer is to go forward after it was amended so as not to affect the Jewish Shabbat siren, the speaker’s office said Wednesday.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, had blocked the draft law in its original form for fear it would also force the toning down of the sirens that announce the start of the Jewish day of rest at sundown each Friday.
But he lifted his objections after it was amended to apply only between 11 pm and 7 am.
The bill will “probably” now be put to a preliminary vote in parliament “next week,” a spokesman for speaker Yuli Edelstein told AFP.
It will then require three further parliamentary votes before it becomes law but it has already sparked outrage around the Arab and wider Muslim world.
Even Israeli government watchdogs have slammed the proposed legislation, describing it as a threat to religious freedom and an unnecessary provocation.
Arab Israeli lawmaker Ahmed Tibi has vowed to appeal to the High Court of Justice if the Shabbat siren is excluded from the scope of the bill on the grounds that it discriminates between Jews and Muslims.
The law would apply to mosques in annexed Arab east al-Quds (Jerusalem) as well as the occupied territories. But supersensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound — Islam’s third holiest site — will be exempted.
“No changes will be made on” al-Aqsa Mosque an Israeli official told AFP.
US President-elect Donald Trump does not think the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories should be condemned because they don’t pose “an obstacle to peace,” according to a top Trump adviser.
The comments were made on Thursday by Jason Greenblatt, the chief legal officer and executive vice president at the Trump Organization. He has been tapped by Trump as his top adviser on Israel.
Greenblatt’s comments would mark a stark departure from the long-time Washington stance that Israeli settlement construction in occupied Palestinian lands makes it more difficult to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
An Israeli minister called for renewed settlement expansions after Greenblatt’s comments. Israeli Science Minister Ofir Akunis said Tel Aviv thinks it’s time to move forward with more settlements now that Trump has won the US presidency.
The administration of US President Barack Obama has repeatedly criticized Israel over the settlement expansions, saying they make it difficult for Israel to reach peace with Palestinians.
The US and Israel are close allies but relations were often tense between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Israeli settlements and the nuclear agreement with Iran last year.
Analysts say a Trump presidency may be profoundly negative for Palestinian aspirations while buoying Israel’s confidence.
Under the Trump presidency, analysts expect there to be less pressure from Washington to halt illegal Israeli settlement building, meaning the settler population will grow unchecked.
“The Palestinian people hold no hope that the change of American president will mean a change in policy towards the Palestinian cause,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “That policy is constant and biased in favor of Israel’s occupation.”
Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign assistance since World War II. America’s military assistance to Israel has amounted to $124.3 billion since it began in 1962, according to a recent congressional report.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Donald Trump on his election as US president on Wednesday and called him “a true friend” of the Zionist entity.
“President-elect Trump is a true friend of the state of Israel, and I look forward to working with him to advance security, stability and peace in our region,” the right-wing premier said in a statement.
“The ironclad bond between the United States and Israel is rooted in shared values, buttressed by shared interests and driven by a shared destiny.”
“I am confident that president-elect Trump and I will continue to strengthen the unique alliance between our two countries and bring it to ever greater heights.”
Netanyahu avoided controversial topics in his statement, unlike members of his government.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the hardline Jewish Home party, said after Trump’s victory that the idea of a Palestinian state was over.
“Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the centre of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause,” Bennett said in an apparent reference to the occupied West Bank.
“This is the position of the president-elect … The era of a Palestinian state is over.”
Others, including politicians from Netanyahu’s Likud party, called for Trump to follow through on his promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds (Jerusalem).
JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities Tuesday morning demolished two residential buildings in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Wadi al-Jouz and al-Issawiya for building without Israeli-issued licenses.
Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces escorted two excavators to the Wadi al-Jouz neighborhood at 4 am. Israeli soldiers were also deployed throughout the alleys of the neighborhood, before surrounding a three-story building as Israeli excavators tore it down.
According to locals, the building consisted of stores on the ground floor, apartments on the second, while the third floor was still under construction.
Local sources highlighted that the stores on the first floor contained food supplies belonging to Palestinian families, adding that Israeli forces demolished the stores without allowing families to remove their supplies.
The demolition occurred after the building was constructed without Israeli-issued building permits, locals said, much like most of East Jerusalem as the process to obtain the permits are often time-consuming and expensive.
After Israeli forces completed the demolition in Wadi al-Jouz, they headed to the neighborhood of al-Issawiya and demolished a residential building, claiming it was lacking Israeli-issued building permits, according to locals.
Member of a local committee in al-Isawiya, Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, told Ma’an that the building was a two-story building, still under construction.
According to Abu al-Hummus, the first floor consisted of commercial stores, while the second served as a residential floor.
A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality was not available for immediate comment.
Demolitions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have seen an unprecedented surge in recent months, with the number of structures demolished in the first half of 2016 already well exceeding the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015.
More than 1,383 Palestinians have been displaced since the beginning of 2016 as a result of demolitions in the occupied territory, compared to 688 Palestinians displaced over the entirety of 2015, according to UN documentation.
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank — the area under full Israeli security and civilian control — and East Jerusalem, though the Israel’s Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a “disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities,” which they boasted “see high approval ratings.”
However, testimonies collected by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan found that the procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits were lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs could reach up to 300,000 shekels ($79,180).
As four out of five of Palestinians in East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, applying for costly building permits is nearly impossible, and only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods.