Israel to impose punitive measures on Palestinian families

Israeli authorities continue to tighten measures over Palestinians as families are reportedly given less than 72 hours to evacuate their homes before demolition

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Israeli officers seen looking at an excavator as a house is demolished in an east Jerusalem neighborhood Beit Hanina.

Israeli authorities on Thursday reportedly gave Palestinian families less than 72 hours to evacuate before they start the demolition of their homes. The move was initiated to deter Palestinians from carrying out alleged attacks on Israelis.

A demolition order was sent to two homes in the Ramallah area of Silwad, as they held two suspects within the family responsible for carrying out an attack, which killed an Israeli settler couple identified as Eitam and Na'ama Henki near Nablus’ in northern West Bank in late June.

The families of both Abdullah Munir Hammad and Muath Hamed - held in jail by the Palestinian Authority - have reportedly been given 72 hours to evacuate or file an objection to the order. 

The families speaking to the Ma'an news website said they are not the owners of the property and have started legal procedures against the order.

Similarly, a demolition notice has allegedly been given to the family of Abd Muhammad Abu Shahin from the Qalandiya refugee camp in northern Ramallah.

Israeli authorities hold Abu Shahin responsible for leading a military cell which carried out an attack last year that killed an Israeli settler and wounded another. 

Local sources also noted that families of three Palestinians identified as Karam al Masri, Yehya Hamad, and Samir Kousa - who are currently held in an Israeli prison - have also been given a short notice of eviction before demolishing their homes. 

A complaint can generally be filed against a punitive demolition order and families can appeal to Israel’s high court. However, Human Rights Watch reported last year that such cases in the past have not given desired results. 

"Israel’s High Court of Justice has refused to apply the absolute prohibition in customary international law against the collective punishment of civilians," noted the Human Rights Watch.

On October 4, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after meeting with top security officials at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, has announced that he has ordered for the re-introduction of the demolition of homes of Palestinians suspected of carrying out attacks on Israelis.

"We're running an all-out war against Palestinian terrorism," Netanyahu said in a statement following the meeting. 

"I've instructed further measures to prevent terror and deter and punish the terrorists," he added. 

Al Haq Human Rights group slammed the collective punitive home demolition of suspected Palestinians and noted that in accordance with humanitarian law and human rights law, their move is considered as a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Meanwhile, B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group said that “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 offense.”

“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.” 

“The official objective of the house demolition policy is deterrence … yet the deterrent effect of house demolitions has never been proven,” they added.

B’Tselem has also argued that although the main purpose of the security measure is to deter deliberate harm, there has been no evidence of “the desired deterrent effect” therefore, it remains “unlawful.”

In late 2014, the US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated that a collective move as such would only heighten tensions in the region. 

Since Oct. 1, at least 32 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces while seven Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians. 

TRTWorld and agencies