Hundreds of police officers, Border Policemen and IDF soldiers early Monday morning began destroying 13 buildings with 72 housing units in the Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood of Tsur Baher in East Jerusalem.

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Tsur Baher is an Arab neighborhood on the southeastern outskirts of eastern Jerusalem, located east of Ramat Rachel and northeast of Har Homa. In 2006, Tsur Baher had a population of 15,000.

The demolished buildings constituted a security risk due to their proximity to the security fence.

The security fence, a.k.a. the Israeli West Bank Barrier, was built during the Second Intifada that began in September 2000, as a necessary measure to stop the wave of Arab violence inside Israel. The number of suicide bombings carried out from the Palestinian Authority fell from 73 by July 2003, when the first fence segment was completed, to a mere 12 by late 2006. However, the vast majority of security experts see the IDF’s dismantling of the Arab terror infrastructure in the PA, and not the wall, as the reason for this improvement. Meanwhile, many see the wall as marking the border of a future Palestinian State.

The decision to demolish the Tsur Baher buildings was reached following a legal approval and a discussion in the Prime Minister’s Office, after the court process had been exhausted. The last high court of justice hearing took place on May 17, at the end of which the court rejected all the petitions against the demolition. Unlike other buildings in Tsur Baher, these designated structures were built in Area A and are under the total official control of the Palestinian Authority – therefore there exists a legal dispute between the residents and the state of Israel. But the court ruled that the buildings are illegal, and they pose a security threat, so off with their heads.

Around 4 AM, hundreds of IDF soldiers, the Border Police and the police raided the compound in eastern Jerusalem. 11 of the buildings are still under construction, and only two of them contained residents who were evicted by security forces.

This contradicts the announcement by B’Tselem that the demolition was carried out despite the fact that “these buildings were built many years ago, some of them after receiving a building permit from the Palestinian Authority.”

There are other contradictions in the messages issued by the various anti-Zionist organizations. While B’Tselem reported that 17 residents were evacuated on Monday (including 11 children), a spokesman for the al-Hummus committee told Haaretz that 100 families had lost their dwellings.

All the homes were destroyed by bulldozers, except for an eight-story building which is slated for demolition by a controlled explosion.

This is the largest demolition of illegal structures in eastern Jerusalem since 1967. Security forces blockaded the entire area designated for demolition after declaring it a closed military zone. For the time being there have been no reports of clashes and the area is relatively quiet.

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