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Israel demolishes home of Palestinian slain after carrying out deadly Jaffa attack

June 21, 2016 1:06 P.M. (Updated: June 23, 2016 11:41 A.M.)
Israeli army demolishes Masalha family home (Photo: Israeli army)
QALQILIYA (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces carried out a punitive home demolition Tuesday morning, targeting the family of a Palestinian who was shot dead by Israeli forces in March after he killed an American tourist and injured 10 Israelis in a stab attack in the Israeli city of Jaffa.

Local sources told Ma’an that a large number of Israeli military vehicles stormed the village of Hajja in the northern occupied West Bank at dawn, after which Israeli soldiers broke into the apartment of a three-story building and demolished its internal walls.

The Israeli army later released a video of the demolition, which a spokesperson said had been carried out “in accordance with government directives” in response the the stab attack carried out by Bashar Masalha.

She added that she could not confirm whether the family had been in involved in or aware of Masalha’s plans to carry out the attack, or if any charges had been brought against the family in connection to the deadly incident.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, section 6 of an English-language document submitted to international agencies by Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), says that enforcement of local planning laws (meaning Palestinian home demolitions) would be frozen during Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday, unless the structures posed a security threat.

Masalha stabbed to death Taylor Force, an American tourist, and wounded some 10 other Israelis, five of them seriously, while running along a path near the port in the Israeli city of Jaffa on March 8. He was shot dead on the scene.

Israel’s Justice Ministry was reportedly set to open an investigation into the killing after footage of the attack seemed to show initial shots fired subdued but did not kill Masalha, while a police volunteer then fatally shot and killed him.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, bystanders in the video could be heard telling the volunteer “Give it to him in the head, don’t be afraid, give it to him in the head. Good, you’re a king.” A policeman is then heard telling his superiors over the radio, “I’ve neutralized him.” But the bystanders continue egging the volunteer on: “Son of a bitch! ... Give it to him in the head.”

Since a wave of violence began in October, Israel has come under repeated criticism for carrying out a policy of extrajudicial executions against Palestinians allegedly carrying out or attempting to carry out attacks after they ceased to pose a threat. The current unrest has left some 220 Palestinians and almost 30 Israelis dead.

Following the attack, Masalha’s village of Hajja was completely sealed by military forces, and Israeli forces raided his home to take measurements for the pending demolition. His body was held by Israeli forces for over 70 days.

Israeli authorities have typically carried out punitive measures on Palestinian communities following attacks on Israelis.

Such measures have been widely condemned by international rights organizations as collective punishment, particularly the policy of punitive home demolition.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem has slammed the policy as “court sanctioned revenge,” as demolitions punish family members of Palestinians who have already been killed following attacks or suspected attacks on Israelis.

Israeli authorities have also revoked work permits for family or community members of those who carry out attacks, while on several occasions cutting off communities for days or weeks at a time.
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