Israeli forces invaded, Monday morning, the village of Wadi al-Homs, southeast of Jerusalem, and demolished five single-family homes and an apartment building nine stories high that was under construction.
The village is located in the township of Sur Bahir, located southeast of Jerusalem in an area that Israel has slated for colonization in its E1 Jerusalem expansion plan.
Israeli officials have issued demolition orders for sixteen Palestinian homes and apartment buildings in the neighborhood, claiming that they are too close to the Israeli-constructed Wall, and must be destroyed “for security reasons”.
According to local sources, more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers participated in the invasion of the neighborhood, mainly to push out the hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis and international solidarity activists who had arrived in the area to try to protect the homes from demolition.
Reporters from the Ma’an News Agency report that Ali al-Obeidi of the neighborhood committee told them that the soldiers attacked women, children, the elderly and the foreign solidarity activists.
al-Obeidi added that the soldiers destroyed Palestinian furniture that was in the homes, in addition to the homes themselves.
He added that the Palestinian families who live in the homes, and those who had been planning to live in the apartment building under construction, have been working through legal and diplomatic channels to try to protect their homes.
But the Israeli authorities, in an attempt to establish “facts on the ground”, went ahead with the demolitions despite the legal case that is in progress.
al-Obeidi told reporters that what is happening today is a mass displacement of the people of the neighborhood of Wadi al-Homs, despite their legal and diplomatic attempt to protect their property.
Hamada Hamada, head of the committee of the residents of Wadi Al-Homs, noted that the 16 buildings threatened by demolition in the neighborhood make up more than 100 family homes, some of which are inhabited and others under construction.
The buildings are located in the area classified as “A” under the Palestinian Authority, which means that under the 1993 Oslo Accords, they are supposed to be under full Palestinian control.
But the Israeli occupying authorities say that these buildings must be demolished due to their proximity to the Israeli Wall constructed in the past several years by Israeli forces in the Palestinian neighborhood.
According to eyewitnesses, the Israeli occupation forces demolished the homes of the Al-Kiswani and Abu Haddwan families, and homes under construction belonging to Ja’far Abu Hamed, ‘Ala’ Amira, Ali Hamid, ‘Shuqair’ and Tariq Mahamid.
As to the nine-story apartment building, belonging to Mohammed Abu Tair, hundreds of soldiers accompanied by military explosives experts, surrounded the building and planted explosives in preparation for detonation.
The demolitions come after the recent Israeli Supreme Court rejection of the appeal by the residents of the Wadi al-Homs neighborhood to preserve their homes. But residents cited legal gaps in the decision, and hoped to appeal to diplomatic channels and international bodies to stop the mass demolition.
In recent weeks, Israeli forces stormed the neighborhood a number of times in preparation for the mass demolition that began this morning.