Israel to Punitively Demolish Homes of Suspected Settlers’ Attackers in Nablus

NABLUS, October 15, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli authorities Thursday notified the families of three Palestinians, whom Israel accuses of carrying out a fatal attack against an Israeli settler couple near Nablus’ Beit Furik area, of their intentions to demolish their homes.

Local sources said that army soldiers handed the families of three Palestinians identified as Karam al-Masri, Yehya Hamad, and Samir Kousa – all of whom are currently incarcerated in Israeli jails – notices ordering them to evict the houses as a prelude to demolish them after 48 hours.

Two settler couple identified as Eitam and Na’ama Henkin were killed in a drive-by shooting attack in the northern West Bank town of Beit Furik, southeast of Nablus, by suspected Palestinians.

Israel resorts to punitively demolish the family homes of any Palestinians – as means of deterrence – accused of being involved in attacks against Israelis, a policy that Israel does not use against Israeli settlers who were involved in fatal attacks against Palestinians.

Following two separate killing incidents of Israelis by Palestinian suspects, including the fatal shooting of the aforementioned settler couple, settlers residing in illegal settlements across the west bank went on a revenge rampage, under the protection of Israeli army forces, against Palestinian civilians and their properties, leading to violent clashes across the West Bank districts, which left dozens of injuries and suffocation cases among Palestinian locals.

Al-Haq human rights group slammed the punitive home demolition of Palestinians suspected of being involved in attacks against Israelis, as a collective punishment and that in accordance with humanitarian law and human rights law, it is assessed as a war crime and a crime against humanity.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, says: “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,” adds the group.

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

It said that, “ Since this constitutes deliberate harm to innocents, it is clear that even if house demolition had the desired deterrent effect, it would, nevertheless, remain unlawful.”

In the meantime, Amnesty International, argued that, The Israeli authorities’ claim that such demolitions are effective in dissuading potential attackers is entirely irrelevant in the eyes of International humanitarian law, which places clear limits on the actions which an occupying power may take in the name of security, and the absolute prohibition on collective punishment is one of the most important of these rules.

“Collective punishment is never permissible under any circumstances,” it said.

Late 2014, The US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki contended that such a move amounted to collective punishment and would only heighten tensions in the region.

On July 31, suspected Jewish extremists threw Molotov cocktails inside a Palestinian home in the village of Duma, setting it ablaze. The arson attack killed toddler Ali Dawabsha, and fatally wounded his parents.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon confirmed that Israeli security forces know who was behind the deadly arson attack in Duma, however, no arrests had been made in order to avoid exposing intelligence sources in court, reported media outlets.

‘We know who is responsible, but we will not expose those findings in order to protect our intelligence sources,” said Ya’alon during a  meeting of the Likud youth branch in early September 2015.

In response, Member of Knesset Aida Toma-Suleiman (Joint Arab List) said that, ‘Would it even be possible to think that the defense establishment would act the same way if a Jewish family was murdered. Ya’alon’s remarks confirm the forgiving attitude within the system towards settler terrorism, which allows for the next murder,’ reported the Israeli Ynet News.