On Monday, Israel destroyed tens of Palestinian homes on the outskirts of East Jerusalem in what has been called the biggest demolition push since 1967.
In the early hours of the day, occupying forces entered the Palestinian village of Sur Bahir to evacuate people before planting explosives and starting the demolitions. Tens of bulldozers then brought down the homes in the area, which is located in the Wadi Hummus neighborhood — close to the wall that separates the West Bank from Jerusalem.
Despite local protests and international criticism surrounding the move, Israel went ahead with the demolitions, claiming the homes were too close to its apartheid wall.
The Israeli military has since declared the area closed for three days. No one is allowed to enter or stay in the location. Palestinians who lost their homes have been banned from collecting their belongings or erecting tents in the area.
Activists who had tried to stop the demolitions filmed the horrific scenery and uploaded the footage online for the world to see.
The move also led to local and international outcry with many deeming it an act of ethnic cleansing. Palestinian officials also condemned the mass demolition and called on the International Criminal Court to investigate it.
The country's Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, told local ministers that the demolitions are "a violation of international law."
Amnesty International labeled the mass demolition as a "war crime." The United Nations said they were ready to provide assistance to those who have been displaced but stressed that "no amount of humanitarian assistance" could help replace what the owners of the homes lost.
In a statement on the matter, the UN also revealed that some of those displaced by the move are Palestinian refugees who have now gone through a second displacement.
This is an act of ethnic cleansing
Tens of families have been forced to leave their homes
"Criminality beyond words"
Not a first for the apartheid state
With complete disregard to international laws and human rights, Israel has been expanding its illegal settlements for years. The occupying state has also been meddling with how and where Palestinians can build homes.
According to the Oslo Accords, the apartheid state should have no say on whether or not homes should be built in areas governed by Palestinian Authority (PA).
However, in 2011, an Israeli military decision decreed that Israel can now demolish buildings in some areas regardless of who they're governed by. That same year, Israel "banned any construction 100-300 meters from both sides of the barrier on the pretext of creating a security buffer zone."
In the area where buildings were demolished this week, 200 buildings lie in the buffer zone and half of them were built before the 2011 decision.
While Wadi Hummus is the first area to be affected by the demolitions, there are tens of other neighboring towns that also lie on the route of the separation wall. Residents of those towns are now worried that their homes are next.
The majority of these houses were built in areas controlled by Palestinian Authority. Though they have all the necessary permits, they can still be taken down by Israelis. This is due to the constant changes in the already vague Israeli laws governing construction around the occupying state's separation wall.