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OIC condemns new Israeli demolition operations in occupied al-Quds

Palestinian protesters rally in front of the rubble of a shop demolished by Israeli forces in the East Jerusalem al-Quds neighborhood of Silwan on June 29, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has denounced new Israeli demolition operations against Palestinian homes and structures, with more potentially on the way, in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds neighborhood of Silwan.

On Tuesday, Israeli bulldozers, along with police forces, razed a building in Silwan’s al-Bustan area, which housed a butcher shop owned by a Palestinian family.

Ensuing skirmishes with protesters injured 13 Palestinians, including six who were struck by Israeli sponge-tipped bullets, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Three Palestinians were also arrested in the clashes with Israeli police officers.

Al-Quds-based attorney Daniel Seidemann said about ninety structures in Bustan could be facing eventual demolition.

While the immediate fate of the Palestinian area might be unclear, Israel’s long-term intentions are plain, he added. “It is part of a project to ring the Old City with settlements and settlement-related open spaces with biblically inspired themes.”

On Wednesday, the OIC General Secretariat said the demolition of Palestinian houses and facilities by the Israeli occupation forces in Bustan is “an extension of the deportation of al-Quds original inhabitants to realize Judaization and colonial settlement designs with aim of altering the demographic, geographic, and legal reality of the Holy City.”

The 57-nation body also stressed that such measures constituted a violation of international law.

It further called on the international community to “shoulder its responsibilities to provide international protection for the Palestinian people, put an end to the occupation, realize just and durable peace in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and the API (Arab peace initiative) and the establishment of the independent state of Palestine with al-Quds al-Sharif as its capital.” 

Bustan residents said Nidal Rajibi, the owner of the butcher shop, had received a mandated warning letter that instructed him to pull the building down.

“The Israelis told us to demolish our homes by ourselves, but the residents said we will not destroy our own homes with our own hands. They demolished one store to put out a feeler for what is to come, they wanted to test the reaction of the Palestinian street,” Kutayba Odeh told CNN.

Nidal’s father, Harbi al-Rajibi, said his home also has a demolition order pending in Jerusalem courts.

“We’ve had the shop since 2010. We tried everything, bringing every form they asked for, but they just don’t want us here,” he added.

Palestinian residents in another East al-Quds neighborhood, Sheikh Jarrah, are also facing the threat of being forced out of their homes.

The planned eviction sparked a series of violent clashes in May between Israeli forces and Palestinians around the al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City as well as a deadly Gaza war.

Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza also warned Israel of an “explosion.”

Fawzi Barhum, the spokesperson for the Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement, said on Tuesday, “The continuation of this extremist racism, creating repeated crises for our people, will lead to explosive storms.”

Similarly, Islamic Jihad, another resistance group headquartered in Gaza, warned that continued demolitions in Silwan could lead to renewed fighting between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The resistance is watching the Zionist escalation in Jerusalem (al-Quds), as it threatens the rules of engagement. It could lead the situation to explode and the region to burst aflame,” the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, said in a statement.

In the Six-Day War in 1967, the Israeli regime captured and annexed East al-Quds, in a move that has never won international recognition, along with the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

Palestinians want an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza with East al-Quds as its capital.

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