The village, part of which was annexed to East Jerusalem but left on the West Bank side of the separation barrier, has over 50 pending demolition orders. Israel has not approved any building permits since 1967.
By Aviv Tatarsky
Israeli bulldozers demolished four homes in the Palestinian village of Walajeh early Monday morning. The homes are on the West Bank side of Israel’s separation barrier, but technically inside the boundaries of the Jerusalem municipality. Israeli forces wounded at least seven Palestinian residents resisting the demolitions.
Israel annexed the northern part of Walajeh, which has around 100 homes, to Jerusalem in 1967. Because the municipality has refused to issue a master plan for the village, every home that has been built since 1967 was built without a permit. A master plan prepared by the residents themselves was rejected by a municipal committee, which claimed that the village is a “green area,” a designation akin to a national park.
Jerusalem has never provided Walajeh with any services, and the separation barrier completely cuts the village off from Jerusalem. However, since 2016, the same planning committee that rejected the village’s proposed master plan began issuing demolition orders for homes in the village.
Along with the four homes that were demolished on Monday, 13 homes total have been demolished in recent years and another 55 homes have outstanding demolition orders. Most of these orders are being fought in court, and Monday’s demolitions are a result of some of those cases recently being rejected.
On Monday morning, after Israeli forces demolished two of the homes in Walajeh, dozens of residents gathered inside, on the roof of, and around a third home in hopes of stopping its demolition. After a couple of hours, during which authorities demolished a fourth home, Israeli Border Police officers fired tear gas into the crowd of people trying to stop the demolition of the final home, and clashes, including some stone throwing, broke out.
At least seven Palestinians were wounded, including one who was taken away unconscious after a police officer hit him in the head with the barrel of his rifle. Another Palestinian man was wounded by a rubber-coated bullet, and one Israeli was lightly wounded.
Aviv Tatarsky is a researcher with Ir Amim. A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.