Israelis bulldoze 14 houses - Palestinian homeowners scuffle with police : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Israelis bulldoze 14 houses Palestinian homeowners scuffle with police, try to block wrecking crews.

July 10, 2001

By JOEL GREENBERG The New York Times

JERUSALEM Israeli wrecking crews protected by hundreds of riot police destroyed 14 homes at the edge of a Palestinian refugee camp in East Jerusalem on Monday in the biggest demolition campaign in the city's Arab neighborhoods in recent years.

At the Shuafat camp, bulldozers tore down 14 unfinished homes built by Palestinian families who planned to move out of cramped quarters in the camp. Mayor Ehud Olmert said the structures had been built without permits.

Distraught families scuffled with police officers and some people threw themselves on the ground in a futile attempt to block the wrecking crews. Five Palestinians were reportedly hurt and several were arrested. The homeowners, served with demolition orders Sunday, had no chance to appeal.

Olmert, a member of the rightist Likud party, defended the action, calling illegal Arab building a "cancer" and a "plague." He vowed to continue the demolitions whenever necessary.

Palestinians and civil-rights advocates say it is virtually impossible for East Jerusalem Arabs to obtain building permits because of Israeli zoning restrictions designed to limit the growth of their neighborhoods and restrict Arab population growth in the city.

The advocates cite official figures showing that far more illegally built homes have been demolished in Arab neighborhoods than in Jewish areas of Jerusalem. According to those figures, Monday's demolitions exceeded the annual total of Arab homes wrecked in recent years.

A victim of violence Sunday, injured when a roadside bomb exploded near his jeep south of Hebron in the West Bank, died Monday. Capt. Shai Shalom Cohen, 22, a deputy company commander, suffered serious head injuries when his jeep was hit by a remote controlled bomb.

And a Palestinian suicide bomber was killed when his explosive-packed pickup truck blew up, apparently prematurely, as it headed toward an Israeli army post on a road leading to Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. There were no Israeli casualties.

At Ben-Gurion International Airport on Monday, the Israeli police tightened security checks and traffic was snarled after the authorities received a warning that a bombing was planned at the airport.

-- PHO (, July 10, 2001

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