Israel Demolishes Wedding Hall in Jerusalem Neighborhood for Lack of Unattainable Permit

JERUSALEM, July 29, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli authorities Wednesday demolished a Palestinian owned wedding hall in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina, just a few kilometers north of central Jerusalem, according to local sources.

WAFA correspondent said an Israeli police contingent accompanied by heavy machinery broke into the area and proceeded to demolish the hall, under the pretext it was built without permission. During the offensive, Israeli police denied media outlets and other residents access to the area.

The Israeli force also ordered the eviction of a commercial complex in preparation for demolition. The complex includes a carpentry workshop, a printing house, and a gas station.

Owner of the hall and the other premises, Akram Abu Shalbak, said during recent months, he was about to conclude the legal procedures to obtain a construction permit, noting that he had not received a demolition warning. Abu Shalbak added that he had incurred some 60 thousand shekels ($16,000) in fines for the unpermitted construction.

The incident took place only a day after Israel demolished residential and commercial structures in East Jerusalem’s Silwan, citing unpermitted construction.

Israel rarely issues construction permits for Palestinians living in East Jerusalem as well in Area C of the West Bank, both under complete Israeli control, forcing may Palestinians to embark on construction without obtaining a permit.

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Israeli authorities prohibit Palestinian construction in vast areas of Area C citing various rationales, such as “defining these areas as state land, survey land, firing zones, nature reserves and natural parks, or by incorporating lands into the jurisdiction of settlements and regional councils.”

The so-called Civil Administration has avoided approving any master plan at all for over 90% of the villages located entirely within Area C, and has approved master plans for only 16 villages, added B’Tselem. “These plans, prepared without participation by local residents, fail to meet their needs.”

It added: “The plans do not designate areas for public purposes such as schools or medical clinics and impose a high population density. The total area covered by these plans is currently only about one half of one percent of Area C.”

“Given the Civil Administration’s policy, the prospects for receiving a building permit outside the scope of the master plans are very slim. Therefore, most Palestinians feel it is futile to apply and do not even submit an application.”