Jerusalem municipality orders demolition of shops on pretext they were built without permits. Palestinians say Israeli authorities rarely give permission to build businesses in occupied Jerusalem's Shuafat refugee camp.

This picture taken on November 21, 2018 shows excavators of the Jerusalem municipality demolishing one of over a dozen shops in the Arab-inhabited Shuafat refugee camp in Israel-occupied East Jerusalem, which authorities said were built without a permit.
This picture taken on November 21, 2018 shows excavators of the Jerusalem municipality demolishing one of over a dozen shops in the Arab-inhabited Shuafat refugee camp in Israel-occupied East Jerusalem, which authorities said were built without a permit. (AFP)

Palestinian officials condemned Israel's demolition on Wednesday of 21 businesses and petrol stations in occupied East Jerusalem's Shuafat refugee camp.

Israeli police confirmed in a statement authorities had demolished "18 illegal businesses and three illegal petrol stations" in the refugee camp, where an estimated 24,000 Palestinians live.

Israeli authorities entered the camp with excavators to destroy the structures as police formed a security perimeter.

"The municipality will continue to carry out activities with the support of the police against illegal business in the different areas," the police statement said.

Israel refuses permission to build

Ahmad Abu Holy, head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's refugee department, condemned the demolitions that he said were "under the illegal pretext of building without a permit".

He made the comments to official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and in parts of the West Bank say its nearly impossible for them to obtain the required building permits from Israeli authorities. 

Khader Dibs, an official from the camp, which is surrounded by Israel's separation wall and is the only refugee camp within occupied Jerusalem, also condemned the demolitions and said the shops had been built in 2007.

Shop owners said they had been given only 12 hours' advance notice.

Shuafat camp receives little from occupied Jerusalem's municipality. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, operates there and provides various services to residents.

Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The outgoing mayor of occupied Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, said recently he wanted to remove the UN agency from the city and replace its services with those from the municipality.

Sensitive issue 

The issue is a highly sensitive one as it touches on the rights of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem, both key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

It claims the entire occupied city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies