Fatah members and representatives of the Palestinian Authority (PA) prevented a compromise and thwarted legal proceedings that could have prevented Israel’s demolition of illegally built structures in the Arab neighborhood of Tsur Baher, TPS has learned.
Police and IDF forces on Monday demolished 70 apartments in 13 illegally-built structures in Tsur Baher, on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Acting after Israel’s High Court of Justice cleared the legal path, the forces demolished the structures, which were built in proximity to the security barrier running on Jerusalem’s outskirts which diminished its effectiveness.
Local residents told TPS that some of the structures could have been saved, but that Fatah “ruined this opportunity so that they could stand out as nationalist operatives in the village and even receive money from the PA,” which could then be embezzled by Fatah, one local resident told TPS.
In recent months, the apartment owners were in contact with Israeli authorities, through a lawyer and religious officials, and attempted to arrive at a compromise that would have saved at least some of the buildings. However, the PA worked to thwart these contacts.
Fatah operatives pressured the residents not to cooperate with the lawyer and promised them compensation from the PA. Fatah members Hamda Hamda, Muhammad Amira and Nasser Amira demanded that no legal proceedings be held vis-à-vis Israeli authorities. They enlisted Muslim clerics to asset them.
TPS obtained a copy of the draft agreement between Israel and the residents. However, after receiving guarantees from the PA for financial compensation, the local residents withdrew from it and refused to pay the legal fees entailed with finalizing the agreement.
The lawyer representing the residents told TPS that the residents lost a golden opportunity to cancel or limit the scope of the demolition and refused to cooperate with the officials who worked as intermediaries between Israel and the residents.