Israel to Halt Arab House Demolitions During Ramadan in Bid to Prevent Escalation

The police chief's decision comes amid heightened tensions in East Jerusalem

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Israel Police Commissioner on the scene of a stabbing attack in East Jerusalem, March 2022.
Israel Police Commissioner on the scene of a stabbing attack in East Jerusalem, March 2022.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Israel will halt demolitions of structures built without permits in the Arab community during Ramadan next month, in order to prevent an escalation of the security situation.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai instructed the police to refrain from carrying out evictions as well as freezing home demolition orders in East Jerusalem and the Negev.

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Dozens of extra policemen are expected to be deployed in Jerusalem’s Old City in the coming days, following stabbing attacks in recent days. During the Muslim month of Ramadan, set to begin on April 2, some 50 police officers are expected to join the unit stationed in the Old City.

According to a senior police official, the decision not to enforce the demolition orders was made in order to prevent local clashes and to enable the Arab community to observe the Ramadan festivities properly, “in the same way that we won’t evict a Jewish family from its home in the midst of Hol Hamoed (the intermediate days of the Sukkot holiday).”

In recent years, the understanding in the police was that demolition orders were not to be carried out during the Ramadan period, but there were also deviations from this practice, leading to this year's explicit instructions.

A member of the Israeli forces stands by the ruins of a Palestinian house they demolished in Sheikh Jarrah on January 19, 2022.Credit: MENAHEM KAHANA - AFP

The decision was also made in advance of the Palestinian Land Day, which will fall on March 30, and in light of the declaration by Palestinian security prisoners that they will begin a hunger strike on March 25, to protest the worsening of their conditions since the escape of six prisoners from Gilboa Prison last September.

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