US condemns demolition of East Jerusalem home

Israeli forces demolished the home of Palestinian Fakhri Abu Diab

Israeli authorities demolish the house of Fakhri Abu Diab in Silwan, East Jerusalem. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

The US criticised Israel on Wednesday for demolishing the home of Fakhri Abu Diab, a Palestinian community leader in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan.

“We believe that demolition not only obviously damages his home and his family and the lives that they have built there, but the entire community, who live in fear that their homes may be next,” said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Mr Abu Diab had been fighting to keep his home in Al Bustan area of Silwan for more than a decade.

Israeli authorities first sent him a demolition order more than 15 years ago, according to Wafa, the Palestinian news agency.

Silwan, a neighbourhood of tightly packed homes and winding streets to the south of the Old City of Jerusalem, has been at the centre of a power struggle between Israeli settlers and Palestinians for years.

Since 2010, the municipality of Jerusalem has been trying to transform the area into a park called “King’s Garden”.

An estimated 1,550 residents are facing demolition orders from Israeli authorities, who have controlled the area since the 1967 war.

Palestinian home destroyed in Sheikh Jarrah – in pictures

Israeli authorities say the homes were built without permits but Palestinians say it is nearly impossible for them to get them approved.

The UN has described Israel's practice of not approving permits for Palestinians in parts of East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank as “restrictive and discriminatory”.

The demolition comes amid the ongoing Israel-Gaza war and as settlers engage in growing levels of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Mr Miller said Israel’s practice of carrying out demolitions in East Jerusalem damages its “standing in the world”.

“These acts obstruct efforts to advance a durable and lasting peace and security that would benefit not just Palestinians, but Israelis,” Mr Miller told reporters at a regular press briefing.

The EU delegation to Palestine was equally irate over the demotion.

“Today’s demolition shows the complete disregard for Palestinian rights to adequate housing in contravention to international law and Israel’s duty as the occupying power,” the group said on X.

Updated: February 15, 2024, 6:10 AM