Israel fires tear gas at protesters demonstrating demolition orders

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Israeli security forces fired tear gas to break up a protest near the country’s West Bank separation barrier on Thursday over an order for demolitions of Palestinian homes.

A small group of Palestinians set up a tent on the outskirts of Beit Sahur on the occupied West Bank side of the barrier next to Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, before it was removed and tear gas was fired by police, an AFP journalist said.

Israeli police did not respond to a request for comment. Israel considers the area near the fence a security zone.

Palestinian Red Crescent medics at the scene said 13 people suffered from tear gas inhalation, but did not require hospital treatment.

The protest was over an Israeli high court ruling last month dismissing a petition by residents of the Sur Baher area on the Jerusalem side of the separation wall requesting the cancellation of a military order prohibiting construction.

On June 18, residents received a 30-day notice from Israeli authorities informing them of their intent to demolish the homes.

According to UN humanitarian affairs agency OCHA, the ruling affects 10 buildings already built or under construction, including around 70 apartments.

Some 17 people would be displaced and around 350 others affected, OCHA said.

Resident fear another 100 buildings in the area could also be at risk in the near future.

Protesters called the demolition plans a “war crime.”

“Our solidary activities will not stop with our brothers and sisters,” said Younes Arar, 48, of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s colonization and wall resistance commission.

“We will continue to erect more tents all around, and we will continue to make our voice and message heard to the international community,” he added.

For Israel, the structures are in a security area where construction is barred.

But Palestinians say it is nearly impossible to receive construction permits from Israeli authorities and a housing shortage has resulted.

Beyond that, they accuse Israeli authorities of systematically seeking to push them out of the Jerusalem area.
Israeli authorities regularly carry out demolitions of what they consider illegal construction by Palestinians in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.

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