JERUSALEM (AA) - Israeli forces on Monday began to demolish dozens of buildings in East Jerusalem, amid Palestinian anger and international outcry.
Bulldozers accompanied by hundreds of Israeli soldiers moved into the neighborhood of Wadi Homs in the occupied city at dawn and began to raze several buildings in the area, according to residents.
"The buildings are home to 350 Palestinians, more than half of them are children," a resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Anadolu Agency.
The Israeli army declared the area a military zone, preventing people and journalists from reaching it.
Israeli authorities claim that the buildings were constructed without a permit.
"The demolitions constitute a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and war crimes pursuant to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court," Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)'s Executive Committee, said in a statement.
He called on the international community "to immediately intervene to halt the demolitions and hold Israel accountable for its repeated violations of international law".
In June, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition by the owners of the buildings to cancel the demolitions. A deadline for the residents to abandon the houses expired Friday.
Last week, UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick and other UN officials called on Israel to halt the demolitions.
The EU also criticized the demolitions for undermining "the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace".
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
In a move never recognized by the international community, Israel annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the self-proclaimed Jewish state’s “eternal and undivided” capital.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Middle East dispute, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem might one day serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.