Saturday, April 17, 2021

Destruction of two suspects’ Hebron homes marks return of punitive demolitions

By Charlotte Armstrong - July 01, 2014
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [House Demolition] [Collective Punishment]

Marwan Qawasmeh's family home after it was blown up with explosives by the Israeli army. Photo by Kelly Lynn.
Following the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teens Monday evening, Israeli troops descended on the homes of the two main suspects, Marwan al-Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisheh, in northwest Hebron. According to local witnesses, Israeli soldiers forcibly removed residents before destroying both the homes.  
Badia Dwaik, coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders group located in Hebron, told Palestine Monitor that after the news broke that the three bodies had been found, residents in the area began to fear Israel’s reaction. “Clashes began between Palestinian youths and the Israeli army soon after the homes of Marwan al-Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisheh were exploded. The homes are in H1, which is supposed to be under Palestinian control, but there is no control here. The Israeli army are raiding all areas,” he said.  
Military sources told The Times of Israel, however, that the houses were not “destroyed,” but that the “front doors were blown off in a controlled explosion.” 
This initial attack comes only days after the Israeli government announced its plans to return the practice of punitive demolitions, knocking down the family homes of Palestinians suspected (and sometimes convicted) of involvement in violence against the State of Israel. The first demolition order was issued against the family home of Ziad Awad, the man accused of murdering senior police and crime officer Baruch Mizrahi in April of this year. 
The Awad family was granted 12 hours from the announcement to evacuate their residence in the Palestinian village of Idhna, near Hebron. Their home was destroyed early Wednesday morning. An official video of the operation, recorded by the Israeli military, has since been released showing Israeli troops setting down explosive lines before the building’s top floor apartment is blown up. 
After the decision to destroy Awad’s house was released last week, HaMoked, an Israeli human rights organisation, appealed to the High Court of Justice. In its petition, which sought to overturn the demolition, HaMoked demonstrated that the house in question is owned by Muhammad Awad, Ziad Awad’s brother. Consequently, it was ordered that only one section of the house be destroyed: the top floor apartment, in which Ziad Awad’s family lived. 
HaMoked appended an expert engineer opinion to its petition, stating that the “detonation of this apartment would jeopardize the soundness of the entire structure.” The petition, however, was rejected and the demolition order granted.  
According to B’Tselem, the Israeli center for Human Rights, two families numbering 13 individuals, including 8 children, live in the same building as Ziad Awad’s family. This total does not include the two Palestinians charged with the attack, Ziad Awad and his son 'Iz a-Din, who have been held in Israeli custody since 7 May.
 “The intention to demolish the family home of the two Palestinians charged with the killing of Baruch Mizrahi means adopting an official policy of harming the innocent,” a spokesperson for B’Tselem stated in a press release yesterday. “The two suspects will be tried for the attack, and are expected to be sentenced to long periods of detention. Their family members, who are not suspected of any offence, are the ones who will suffer the loss of their home.”
Israel stopped using home demolitions as a punitive measure in 2005, following an Israeli army report that labelled the policy ineffective as a deterrent against “terrorism.” Recently, however, this label has been retracted. An Israeli army recently told The Jerusalem Post that the “destruction of the homes of terrorists is a message of deterrence to terrorists and their partners. There is a price they will pay if they choose to continue with terrorist activities and harming innocent civilians.”

B’Tselem believes that this sudden change in opinion suggests that the real motives are “reaping revenge and politically capitalising on the current public mood in Israel following the disappearance and death of the three Yeshiva students."

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