Is­rael razes homes of four Pales­tini­ans in West Bank

De­ter­rent or col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment?

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Is­raeli troops razed the West Bank homes of four Pales­tini­ans ac­cused of at­tack­ing Is­raelis yes­ter­day, press­ing a con­tro­ver­sial pol­icy of puni­tive de­mo­li­tions af­ter weeks of deadly un­rest. The de­mo­li­tions came hours af­ter two Is­raelis were shot dead in an ap­par­ent am­bush near the flash­point West Bank city of He­bron on Fri­day in the most se­ri­ous at­tack on Is­raelis in nearly a month. In Nablus in the north­ern West Bank, troops de­stroyed the homes of three Pales­tini­ans ac­cused of killing an Is­raeli set­tler couple on Oc­to­ber 1 at the start of the lat­est flare-up of violence, the army said.

Be­fore dawn, the army de­stroyed the fam­ily homes of Kerem Razek, Samir Kusa and Yahya Haj Hamed, all three of whom are await­ing trial for the mur­der of Ei­tam and Na’ama Henkin in their car in front of their young chil­dren. In Sil­wad, north­east of Ra­mal­lah, the army razed the home of a Pales­tinian ac­cused of killing an Is­raeli on a West Bank road in June. The home of Mouad Hamed, ac­cused of killing Malachi Rosen­feld, was de­stroyed in a con­trolled explosion that caused dam­age to at least two neigh­bor­ing houses, an AFP pho­tog­ra­pher re­ported. The de­mo­li­tions in Nablus prompted clashes be­tween pro­test­ers and the Is­raeli army in which nine Pales­tini­ans were wounded, two of them by live am­mu­ni­tion, Pales­tinian med­i­cal sources said. The army op­er­a­tion came af­ter the High Court ruled in fa­vor of the de­mo­li­tions on Thurs­day.

The pol­icy is con­tro­ver­sial even in Is­rael. The gov­ern­ment ar­gues it acts as a de­ter­rent but crit­ics say the main vic­tims are rel­a­tives forced to pay for an­other per­son’s ac­tions. Last month, the gov­ern­ment or­dered an in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of the pol­icy in re­sponse to a wave of stab­bing and shoot­ing at­tacks and other deadly un­rest. Dalia Ker­stein, di­rec­tor of the Hamoked NGO which filed the ap­peals against the de­mo­li­tions, said she had ex­pected the fam­i­lies to be given 48 hours to leave. “( The de­mo­li­tions) are im­moral, it is col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment and they will ig­nite the West Bank,” she said. “How can (Is­raelis) not see it will fan the flames?”

De­mo­li­tion or­ders against sev­eral other homes of al­leged at­tack­ers are still be­ing con­tested in the Is­raeli courts. The in­ten­si­fied de­mo­li­tions are among a raft of get­tough poli­cies Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu has or­dered un­der pres­sure from far-right coali­tion part­ners. They also in­clude min­i­mum jail terms for Pales­tinian stone-throw­ers, looser rules of en­gage­ment for the army and the with­hold­ing of the bod­ies of al­leged at­tack­ers to pre­vent their fu­ner­als be­com­ing po­lit­i­cal ral­lies. But the crack­down has done lit­tle to stop the violence. Since Oc­to­ber 1, 12 Is­raelis have been killed. On the Pales­tinian side 81 peo­ple have died, in­clud­ing one Is­raeli Arab. Many have been al­leged at­tack­ers but they have also in­cluded pro­test­ers shot in clashes with the army. Fri­day saw three Pales­tini­ans die af­ter be­ing shot by troops.

WEST BANK: Pales­tini­ans look at the rub­ble of the house of Pales­tinian Yahya Ha­mad, a mem­ber of a group ac­cused of killing an Is­raeli set­tler couple in the It­mar set­tle­ment af­ter it was de­stroyed by Is­rael yes­ter­day. —AFP

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