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Israeli forces demolish part of the Abu Jubna family home in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, October 25, 2023.


Enes Canli/Anadolu via Getty Images

Blog Post

Jerusalem Home Demolitions Increase amidst Repression

Advocacy groups are warning of a dangerous rise in home demolitions in East Jerusalem in the wake of Israel’s war in Gaza.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has recorded 14 demolitions in East Jerusalem in the three weeks since Hamas shocked Israel1 by breaking through the fortifications around Gaza and carrying out an attack on Israeli military posts and civilian settlements around the border, resulting in the capturing of over 200 hostages and the killing of over 1,000 Israeli soldiers and civilians. 

Most of the Palestinian structures demolished since the attack were inhabited homes, and 51 people were displaced. All of the structures were demolished by Israeli officials for being constructed without a building permit.

Nine of the structures demolished were in the three Palestinian neighborhoods of Beit Hanina, Jabal Mukabbir, and Sheikh Jarrah.

Voice of Palestine reported that another eight structures were demolished by their owners during the same time.2 Homeowners found to be in violation are often given the “choice” of paying a steep “service fee” to Israeli authorities to demolish their home or demolishing the structure themselves.

Most of the Palestinian structures demolished since the attack were inhabited homes, and 51 people were displaced.

The October findings reflect a stark increase in the number of Palestinians displaced by the house demolitions. In September, 12 Palestinian structures were demolished in East Jerusalem; the number of people displaced (17) was significantly less than is typical, because some of the homes were uninhabited. In August, 10 structures were demolished, displacing 19 people.

Save the Children has studied the impact of house demolitions on children and found that children find it difficult to maintain a sense of safety, experiencing “severe emotional distress” and making them feel “cut off from their friends and communities.”3

Blog Post Through a Child’s Eyes

The bulldozer arrived without warning and proceeded to demolish the home. A Photo Story

Ideologically Driven Increase

The year 2023 was already on track for the highest number of home demolitions in recent years, with 179 structures destroyed, leaving 443 people without places to live. Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir declared a campaign in February to “bring back order” and increase home demolitions in response to illegal building.

Building permits are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain in East Jerusalem, while large planned Israeli settlements in the same vicinity are provided with permits, infrastructure, and benefits in order to facilitate Jewish population growth in the city.4

Since 1967, approximately 600 Palestinian homes have been built in East Jerusalem with the proper permits, compared to 58,000 homes for Jewish settlers.5

Advocacy group Ir Amim suggested that the October demolitions were retaliations for the October 7 Hamas attack. They called for a moratorium on the practice “and the advancement of true urban and housing justice for Palestinians in East Jerusalem.”6

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Voice of Palestine Radio, translated by Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, October 27, 2023.


Miriam Berger, “Jerusalem Demolitions Gain Pace under Netanyahu, Enraging Palestinians,” Washington Post, February 21, 2023.


Ir Amim (@Iramim_english), “Demolition update in East Jerusalem,” Instagram photo, October 26, 2023.

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