‘Under the Guise of Unlicensed Construction’, Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality demolished two residential buildings in Bir Onah neighborhood

‘Under the Guise of Unlicensed Construction’, Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality demolished two residential buildings in Bir Onah neighborhood



In the early morning of January 28, 2018, the Israeli occupation Bulldozers guarded by the Israeli Police and employees of the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality, raided Bir Onah neighborhood in Beit Jala city and razed two under-construction Palestinian residential buildings (3 floors each) owned by Waleed Zreneh and Issa Awad allegedly for being built without proper building permits. The demolition process has inflicted huge financial losses to both families who hold Jerusalem blue Identification cards[1].  Photos of the demolitions below 

Bir Onah neighborhood is part of Beit Jala city, located in the area that was illegally and unilaterally annexed from the city for redrawing Jerusalem municipality boundaries back in the 1967, following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. The majority of Palestinians living in Bir Onah neighborhood are East Jerusalem ID card holders.

Map 1: the location of the demolished residential buildings 


The Israeli methodic house destruction flagrantly violates international humanitarian law. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention Israel is prohibited from destroying Palestinian property as stated in Article 53 of the Convention which provides that 'Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.' Also article 147 of the same Convention provides that “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” is a grave breach of the Convention.

Israel’s plan for Bir Onah neighborhood

Israel has constructed a 1.3 km wall section on lands of Bir Onah neighborhood and set it outside the boundaries of Jerusalem municipality, to become on the eastern side of the wall (under the jurisdiction of the West Bank), despite its location inside the Jerusalem municipal boundary. Upon its completion, the wall will strip Palestinian Jerusalemites in Bir Onah neighborhood off their right to acquire city services in the future in return for what they pay of Arnona and other taxes, because they no longer will be living within the city boundaries. Additionally, Palestinians will be confronted with one and only option which is to move and live in the city of Jerusalem so as not to lose their Jerusalem ID cards and the rights affiliated to them.

The Jerusalem Municipality is also manipulating with the demographic balance in the city of Jerusalem in favor of Judaizing it, by emptying it  from the highly dense Palestinian communities that has become on the eastern side of the wall. This was revealed back in October 2017, when the Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz, published an article on the 29th of October 2017, revealing the Israeli Affairs Minister’s proposal, Zeev Elkin, for the municipal division of Jerusalem, which would see several Palestinian neighborhoods on the eastern side of the wall (due to wall construction such as Kafr Aqab, Shu’fat Camp, Ein Al Juweiza neighborhood in Al Walajeh village and a small area of As Sawahreh Al Ash Sharqiya), be separated from the Jerusalem municipality boundary and placed under the jurisdiction of one or more new council administrations (could be the Israeli Civil Administration). The proposal hasn’t been approved yet according to Elkin, (requires the approval of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the completion of various legislative amendments, whose first reading was already passed by the Knesset in July 20147), however, this proposal, if approved, will establish an extraordinary Israeli local council whose inhabitants are not Israeli settlers, but rather Palestinians with the status of permanent residents only (Palestinians holding Jerusalem ID cards), (Haaretz. 2017). Haaretz also noted that following the construction of the wall in and around Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Municipality, police and other Israeli agencies stopped providing services to Palestinian communities that has been sit outside the wall area (excluded from the city’s municipal boundary due to the construction of the wall). This proposal, if approved, will also be applied to Bir Onah neighborhood since it has been set outside the city’s Municipal boundary due to the construction of the wall. 

To conclude,

The Israeli grip on Jerusalem city has been ensured through the construction of the Segregation wall around the city, wherein Israel managed to set many Palestinian communities outside the city’s municipal boundaries against their consent, and retained control over the newly annexed Palestinian lands, to sustain the future of its settlements in the city, while neglecting the negative impact of such a policy on Palestinians and their future as Jerusalemites.


[1] Palestinians with Jerusalem ID cards (Blue Cards) are entitled to most benefits offered by the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem




Prepared By  
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem




Categories: Demolition