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Israel demolishes 3 homes belonging to alleged Palestinian assailants in Ramallah

Aug. 10, 2017 10:35 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 11, 2017 10:41 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces demolished three homes belonging to the families of alleged Palestinian attackers, while another home was sealed, in the villages of Deir Abu Mashaal and Silwad in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah during pre-dawn hours on Thursday, leaving dozens of Palestinians homeless.

Israeli forces demolished the family homes of two alleged attackers in Deir Abu Mashaal: Baraa Ibrahim Saleh, 18, and Osama Ahmad Atta, 19.
Meanwhile, the family home of the third alleged assailant Hassan Ankosh, 18, was sealed, not demolished, according to an Israeli army spokesperson.

The families received demolition orders last month after the youths allegedly carried out a deadly attack near Damascus Gate in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, which left an Israeli police officer dead. The three Palestinians were shot dead at the scene by Israeli forces.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the families of Saleh and Atta had petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court in order to challenge the demolitions. The court ruled that only the second story of the houses would be demolished, leaving the ground floors intact, while the second floor of the Ankosh family home would be sealed off.

A statement released by Suliman al-Wairi, director of the Abdullah Al-Hourani Center for Studies in the West Bank, said that Ankosh's home was only closed and sealed by Israeli forces and not demolished since their home is located in an overcrowded area of the village, and was too close to other houses to be demolished.
Locals told Ma’an that some 50 Israeli army vehicles had raided the village, alongside Israeli bulldozers which demolished the homes. Israeli drones also flew above the village at the time.

Locals said that Israeli forces had declared a curfew in the village, prohibiting any residents from exiting their homes, during the demolition in order to avoid clashes. However, calls to resist the demolition were blared through the loudspeakers of the village’s mosque.

Head of the village council Imad Zahran told Ma’an that villagers had gathered at the main streets of the village and near the homes in an attempt to prevent the demolitions.

Clashes subsequently erupted in the village, leaving three “youths” injured with Israeli-fired live ammunition, locals said. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports on the clashes.
According to locals, an Israeli court had given the families one week to evacuate their homes and save their valuables before carrying out the demolitions.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a total of 22 people, the three mens’ family members, have been left homeless by the punitive demolitions in spite of not having been charged with any wrongdoing.

Israeli forces also demolished the home of Malik Hamid in Silwad village. Hamid, 23, allegedly carried out a vehicular ramming attack near Israel's illegal settlement of Ofra in April, leaving an Israeli soldier dead and another injured. Hamid was shot and detained by Israeli forces following the attack.

In both cases, Deir Abu Mashaal and Silwad faced tightened security measures following the attacks, with Deir Abu Mashaal being placed under a full military blockade following the attack in East Jerusalem.

Several family members of the alleged assailants were detained by Israeli forces after the attacks -- a typical Israeli policy. The family members of the alleged assailants of Deir Abu Mashaal also had their Israeli permits revoked by authorities, while some 250,000 Palestinians who had received Israeli permits during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan also saw their permits rescinded.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in an effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals since an increase in violence erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory in late 2015.

The demolitions were carried out despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks. However, Israeli rights group B’Tselem has pointed out that even if the policy was proven to deter Palestinian attacks on Israelis, the policy would remain “unlawful,” as it “constitutes deliberate harm to innocents.”

Al-Wairi said that the number of houses that have been demolished under Israel's punitive demolition policy has risen to 36 over the past two years. Four other houses were evacuated and destroyed after Israeli forces poured concrete into the house, while one of these houses was welded shut by the Israeli army after they were unable to demolish it, according to al-Wairi.

Al-Wairi noted the double standard of Israel's enforcement of the controversial policy when it comes to Palestinian and Israeli assailants, noting the case of the Abu Khdeir family who had petitioned Israel's Supreme Court to demolish the homes of three Israelis convicted of brutally killing 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir in 2014.

He also pointed out that there was no punitive measures carried out against the Israeli settlers who lit the Dawabsha family home on fire in 2015, burning an 18-month old infant and his two parents to death. Ahmad Dawabsha, then four-years-old, was left as the sole survivor of the attack. The Israeli government has also refused to provide compensation to the devastatated family.

B’Tselem has condemned the practice of punitive home demolitions as "court-sanctioned revenge" carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment.
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