Israel demolishing homes of accused Palestinians

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ISRAELI authorities on Thursday handed the families of two Palestinian suspects – whom Israel accused of being involved in an attack against Israeli soldiers – notices to demolish their homes in the town of Silwad to the east of Ramallah.

Local sources informed Palestinian news agency WAFA that army soldiers handed the family of Abdallah Hamed, a demolition notice for their home. The notice gave the family 72 hours to evict the house – which is a rental property – or to appeal the decision at court.

Forces also handed the family of Mo’ath Hamed a similar demolition notice. Both aforementioned Palestinians – in addition to three others – were accused of being affiliated with an armed Hamas cell that carried out a shooting attack against Israeli soldiers on June 29, 2015. An Israeli soldier was killed and three others were injured during the attack.

Just a few days ago, Israeli forces raided the home of Ahmad Shirawi – also accused by Israel of being involved in the June attack against Israeli soldiers – where they proceeded to take measurements of the house. The family expressed concern that this measure could come as a prelude to demolish their home.

In the meantime, Israeli forces on Thursday raided the home of Amjad al-Jundi, who was shot dead by Israeli soldiers after allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack against a settler in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, where they proceeded to photograph and take measurements of the three-storey house, located in the town of Yatta to the south of Hebron.

Forces further interrogated all family members and ordered the family to show them the necessary documents that prove their ownership of the house, in addition to the house’s building permit. Earlier Thursday, Israeli authorities notified the families of three Palestinians, who Israel accuses of carrying out a fatal attack against an Israeli settler couple near Nablus’ Beit Furik area, of their intentions to demolish their homes.

Local sources said that army soldiers handed the families of three Palestinians identified as Karam al-Masri, Yehya Hamad, and Samir Kousa, all of whom are currently incarcerated in Israeli jails, notices ordering them to evict the houses as a prelude to demolish them after 48 hours. Two settler couple identified as Eitam and Na’ama Henkin were killed in a drive-by shooting attack in the northern West Bank town of Beit Furik, southeast of Nablus, by suspected Palestinians.

Israel resorts to punitively demolish the family homes of any Palestinians, as means of deterrence, accused of being involved in attacks against Israelis, a policy that Israel does not use against Israeli settlers who were involved in fatal attacks against Palestinians.

Following two separate killing incidents of Israelis by Palestinian suspects, including the fatal shooting of the aforementioned settler couple, settlers residing in illegal settlements across the West Bank went on a revenge rampage, under the protection of Israeli army forces, against Palestinian civilians and their properties, leading to violent clashes across the West Bank districts, which left dozens of injuries and suffocation cases among Palestinian locals.

Al-Haq human rights group slammed the punitive home demolition of Palestinians suspected of being involved in attacks against Israelis, as a collective punishment and that in accordance with humanitarian law and human rights law, it is assessed as a war crime and a crime against humanity.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, says: ‘The people who bear the brunt of the (punitive) demolitions are relatives – including women, the elderly, and children – whom Israel does not suspect of involvement in any offence.’

‘In the vast majority of cases, the person whose actions prompted the demolition was not even living in the house at the time of the demolition,’ adds the group. The official objective of the house demolition policy is deterrence . . . yet the deterrent effect of house demolitions has never been proven.’

It said that, ‘Since this constitutes deliberate harm to innocents, it is clear that even if house demolition had the desired deterrent effect, it would, nevertheless, remain unlawful.’ In the meantime, Amnesty International, argued that, the Israeli authorities’ claim that such demolitions are effective in dissuading potential attackers is entirely irrelevant in the eyes of international humanitarian law, which places clear limits on the actions which an occupying power may take in the name of security, and the absolute prohibition on collective punishment is one of the most important of these rules. Collective punishment is never permissible under any circumstances,’ it said.

• President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said Palestinians will uphold the political, national and legal struggle and will not remain hostage to agreements disregarded by Israel. Abbas addressed the Palestinian people in a televised speech and said: ‘The aggressive and growing Israeli attack against our people, land, and holy places undermine peace and stability.

‘This attack threatens to ignite the fuse of a religious war, which will burn everything, not only in the region, perhaps even in the entire world.’ He urged that the recent development be met with immediate intervention from the international community before it is too late.

Abbas said Palestinians will never agree to change the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque and will not agree to any Israeli plan, which aims to undermine the sacredness of and the site’s Islamic identity. He affirmed that no peace shall prevail until the Israeli occupation ends and a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 is established with Jerusalem as its capital.

Finally, Abbas emphasised the importance of joining international treaties and organisations. He said the Palestinian Authority has prepared files on settlement activities, Gaza aggression, political prisoners and the arson attacks against the Dawabshe family and Mohammad Abu Khudeir and presented them to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He said more files will be presented about the extrajudicial killings of Palestinians to the ICC. Abbas concluded: ‘Who fears international law and sanctions must refrain from committing crimes against our people.’