The policy of home demolitions has been one of the most protuberant measures taken by Israel since its occupation of the West Bank in 1967 and especially in Jerusalem. This policy has been based on various arguments and justifications to sidestep international law, in order to continue the policy and the subsequent displacement of Palestinians. Some of the justifications used include the lack of building permits especially for those homes in Jerusalem, the requirements of military necessity, and most recently demolitions based on punitive measures under the pretext that a member of the family was accused of carrying out an attack against Israel.
An example of these procedures is the case if a Jerusalemite citizen owner of a building built for over 20 years which is used as a community center for the residents of Al Sawahreh area in East Jerusalem. The building is used for social purposes and is the community’s meeting point. The owner made some slight renovations after the building was damaged from weather conditions. The Israeli National Council for Building and Planning used these renovations as an excuse to issue an administrative demolition order against the building, claiming that these demolitions are illegal and accused the owner of making additions to the building without obtaining a permit.
The Society of St. Yves immediately approached the Local Affaires Court which is affiliated to the Israeli Ministry of Interior in order to set a hearing in which St. Yves’ specialized lawyer demanded revoking the demolition order as the citizen had only made slight renovations, which are even if proven illegal under Israeli law the citizen can be fined but under no circumstances is it legal that a demolition order be issued against an old building for minor renovations. However, the Israeli municipality’s court refused St. Yves allegations and gave the green light for the demolition, St. Yves responded by submitting an urgent appeal to the Jerusalem District Court demanding a freeze of the demolition order until a hearing is scheduled for St. Yves and the Israeli National Council for Building and Planning to decide upon this case.
Two weeks later, the Jerusalem District Court issued a decision annulling the house demolition order issued by the Jerusalem Municipality Court. St. Yves’ lawyer proved the building should be classified as an old building and that the modifications made were only minor renovations. This case could make a legal precedent for many cases in which Israeli authorities’ issue random administrative demolition orders aiming at displacing Palestinians from Jerusalem.