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Israel begins destroying Palestinian homes on Jerusalem al-Quds outskirts

An Israeli machinery demolishes a Palestinian building in the village of Sur Baher on the outskirts of the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds on July 22, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli forces have begun destroying homes on the outskirts of the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, despite international condemnation and mass protests.

Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and police stormed Sur Baher early on Monday and declared the village a military zone, banning journalists from entering.

"Since 2 am they have been evacuating people from their homes by force and they have started planting explosives in the homes they want to destroy," said Hamada Hamada, a community leader in Sur Baher.

Palestinian and international activists, who tried to stop the demolition, were present in the scene and filmed and photographed the work.

Adnan Gheith, the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem al-Quds, criticized the demolitions as a war crime.

In June, Israel’s supreme court rejected a petition by the owners to cancel the demolitions. A deadline for the residents to abandon the houses expired on Friday.

Israel claims the owners had failed to obtain “building permits” from the regime.

The residents, however, say they did not need Israeli permission to build their homes because they had received approvals from the Palestinian Authority, which is tasked with running the West Bank’s affairs.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates on Sunday called upon the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch an investigation into the Israeli regime’s mass demolitions in the neighborhood.

The ministry also said the Israeli high court's decision “proves that the Israeli judiciary is part of the Israeli colonial mindset and has nothing to do with law, but provides cover and protection to the occupier's crimes and violations.”

The United Nations, which recognizes Jerusalem al-Quds as occupied territory, has urged Israel to halt the demolitions.

"The continuation of this policy undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace," the European Union said in a statement.

Israeli forces injure scores in al-Quds

Meanwhile, tens of Palestinian people were injured during clashes with Israeli forces in the village of Isawiya in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said the Israeli force attacked paramedics and prevented them from transferring the injured people, leaving one of the paramedics wounded by a rubber bullet.

EU urges Israel to 'immediately' stop Palestinian home demolition

In a related development, the European Union on Monday urged Israel to immediately halt the demolition of Palestinian homes on the outskirts of the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, saying such activities undermine hope for “a lasting peace” in the region.

"In line with the EU's long-standing position, we expect the Israeli authorities to immediately halt the ongoing demolitions," said a spokesman for the EU's foreign policy arm, which represents the bloc's 28 member states, AFP reported.

"The continuation of this policy undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace..."

The Palestinians have slammed the demolitions in the Sur Baher area and the EU also backs their view that in the land in question, according to the Oslo peace accords, "all civil issues are under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority."

Palestinians accuse Israel of using security as a pretext to force them out of the area as part of long-term efforts to expand settlements and roads linking them.

France condemns Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes

France, for its part, has also condemned a Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes, saying that the destruction set a "dangerous precedent" and violated international law.

"France condemns the demolition by the Israeli army of several buildings in the area of Wadi al Hummus, in the southeast of Jerusalem," a statement from the French Foreign Ministry said as quoted by AFP.

"These demolitions have taken place for the first time in an area controlled by the Palestinian authority under the Oslo Accords. They represent a dangerous precedent, which poses a direct threat to the two-state solution," it added.

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