Israel razes homes of four Palestinians

AFP , Saturday 14 Nov 2015

West Bank
Palestinians look at the rubble of the house of Palestinian Karam al-Masri, a member of a group accused of killing an Israeli settler in the Itmar settlement in October 1, the day after it was destroyed by Israel in the West Bank city of Nablus on November 14, 2015 (Photo: AFP)

Israeli troops on Saturday razed the occupied West Bank homes of four Palestinians accused of attacking Israelis, pressing ahead with a controversial policy of punitive demolitions after weeks of Israeli repression to Palestinian protests.

Separately, 19 Palestinians were wounded in clashes between protesters and Israeli security forces in the south of the occupied West Bank.

In Nablus in the north, 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 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 Palestinian political capital Ramallah, the army razed the home of a man 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 also damaged at least two neighbouring houses, an AFP photographer said.

In an unrelated protest in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, 19 Palestinians were hospitalised after being shot in clashes with Israeli security forces, Palestinian medical sources said.

Fourteen were hit by live ammunition and five were struck by rubber bullets, the sources said.

The army operation came after the High Court ruled in favour of the demolitions on Thursday.

The policy is controversial even in Israel. The government argues that 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 get-tough policies ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under pressure from far-right coalition partners.

These also include minimum jail terms for Palestinians, looser rules of engagement for the army and withholding the bodies of alleged attackers to prevent funerals from becoming political rallies.

But the crackdown has done little to stop the violence.

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.

The current wave of protests and repression started in late July when 18-month old toddler Ali Dawabsha was burned to death and three other Palestinians severely injured after their house in the occupied West Bank was set on fire by Israeli settlers.

The parents of the toddler, Riham and Saad, and their other son Ahmad later lost their lives after suffering serious injuries in the arson attack.

Palestinians have been also protesting repeated Israeli and illegal Jewish settler attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque and closing the Muslim holy site on a number of occasions to worshippers.

So far, 1, 12 Israelis have been killed. On the Palestinian side 81 people have died, including one Israeli Arab. Friday saw three Palestinians die after being shot by troops.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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