IDF Bulldozers
IDF BulldozersFlash 90

Israeli security forces on Monday demolished two illegally constructed Arab homes in eastern Jerusalem.

A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said the two structures – in Silwan and Beit Hanina – were "illegal, with court-issued demolition orders."

"Israeli troops came at five in the morning to demolish the house and were done by 7 am. They also demolished our barn that had some poultry in it," said Burhan Burqan, the owner of the house in Silwan, told AFP.

We received a notice two weeks ago and they carried it out today," he added.

Enforcing the rule of law in Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods is often a contentious affair. Monday’s demolitions came one day after three Israeli police officers were injured by Arab rioters in the frequently volatile Shuafat neighborhood. 

The move was hailed by Jewish activists who say the Palestinian Authority is seeking to effectively annex eastern Jerusalem by underwriting illegal construction in the city on a large scale.

Israel liberated occupied eastern Jerusalem from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War. Jordan occupied Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem – parts of the British Mandate slated for the Jewish State – during Israel's War of Independence in 1948.

Israel, which has annexed Jerusalem, regards the city as its "eternal and indivisible" capital.

Israel has demolished 515 illegally built Arab-owned structures in Israeli-administered areas of Judea and Samaria in 2011 – including 22 in Jerusalem.

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, 62 percent of Judea and Samaria, including all of eastern Jerusalem, remain under Israeli administration. All construction in those areas requires permits from Israeli officials.

Regional observers say the number of illegally built Arab structures ignored by Israeli officials – especially in Jerusalem – far outstrips the number of demolitions ultimately carried out.