After midnight on 22 Dec. 2016, Israeli security forces entered Kafr ‘Aqab in order to seal the home of a person who had committed an attack. They shot and killed Ahmad Kharubi, 19, a resident of al-Birah, who had come with his friends to protest against the sealing. B'Tselem’s investigation shows that, contrary to the military’s claim, Kharubi and his friends could not have posed any danger to the forces. The shooting at Kharubi and his friends was executed unlawfully and without justification – as was the sealing of the home itself.
House Demolitions as Punishment
On Sunday 8 Jan. 2017 Fadi al-Qunbar, 28, of Jabal al-Mukabber, carried out a ramming attack at the Armon Hanatziv Promenade in Jerusalem, killing 4 soldiers and injuring 13. Israeli authorities have since adopted punitive measures against his extended family and other locals. Collective punishment and administrative measures against Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are an acknowledged Jerusalem Municipality policy and the mayor boasts of it. While the policy is overt, this does nothing to detract from its being wrongful and involving widespread persecution by the authorities of thousands of Jerusalem residents.
Since Oct. 2015, Israel has demolished or sealed 37 homes to punish relatives of Palestinians who attacked Israelis or were suspected of such attacks, leaving 149 people homeless, including 65 minors. Dozens more homes were measured as preparation, forcing 339 people, incl. 128 minors, to live under threat of demolition. Though this collective punishment is unlawful and immoral, the HCJ continues to routinely approve demolition orders. The Supreme Court President has refused recent calls by some justices to revisit the issue.
Security forces recently demolished 4 apartments of relatives of Palestinians who perpetrated, or were suspected of perpetrating or aiding in attacks against Israelis, after the HCJ dismissed petitions filed by the families and HaMoked, upholding the demolitions. The demolitions left homeless 28 people, including 6 minors, who are suspected of no wrong doing. Since Oct. 2015 Israel has stepped up punitive house demolitions, with 36 apartments demolished or fully or partially sealed since. The large-scale sealing and demolition operations have left 147 people, including 65 minors, homeless.
On 23 Feb. 2016 the military demolished the homes of two families in the Hebron area as punishment for attacks for which individual members of the families have been indicted. The demolitions - which left 15 people homeless, including 9 minors, none of whom are suspected or accused of any wrongdoing - were implemented after the HCJ rejected petitions filed in the matter by the families and HaMoked. Since Oct. 2015 Israel has stepped up punitive home demolitions, a policy the HCJ approves virtually without restriction. Such conduct cannot be considered more than lip service to the notion of judicial review.
Since the start of 2016, Israel has demolished three homes as collective punishment for attacks against Israeli civilians committed by family members. This left 18 persons homeless, including seven minors. Security forces have also surveyed dozens of homes slated for future demolition. Despite the extreme nature of this act and the clear position of jurists that it is illegal, the HCJ repeatedly approves the demolitions. Demolishing or sealing homes is a draconian, vindictive action targeting entire families not suspected of any offense.
Israel recently demolished the homes of 2 West Bank families as collective punishment for attacks relatives perpetrated or allegedly aided in. Damage by the blasts left 6 more units unhabitable: 27 people (includ. 16 minors) suspected of no wrongdoing were left homeless. Demolishing family homes of suspected attackers is collective punishment, prohibited under international law. Despite the sanction’s extremity, and the clear position by legal scholars that it is unlawful, the HCJ repeatedly upholds this draconian and vindictive measure used against entire families accused of no wrongdoing.
Israeli security forces recently demolished the homes of 6 Palestinian families in the West Bank as retaliation for attacks their relatives are suspected of perpetrating against Israelis. The blasts rendered another 8 apartments uninhabitable, leaving homeless 39 people, incl. 17 minors, suspected of no wrongdoing. Although it constitutes collective punishment prohibited by international law, this extreme policy has been repeatedly sanctioned by Israel’s High Court. Demolishing or sealing a home is a draconian, vindictive measure directed at entire families suspected of no wrongdoing.
B’Tselem Executive Director El-Ad in an op-ed in Israeli daily Haaretz: The political and legal systems have been thrown into turmoil by Supreme Court Justice Vogelman scheduling an emergency hearing on demolition of the homes of the families of Palestinian perpetrators of attacks. Yet all party to this round of legal-administrative brutality can breathe easy: demolitions were sanctioned, are sanctioned, will be sanctioned by the court. Then, a family – which no one claims is guilty of any wrongdoing – will find its home reduced to a pile of rubble, or poured full of concrete.
Authorities Oct. 6 demolition of two flats and sealing of another in East Jerusalem as collective punishment for attacks by occupant’s relatives left 13, including 7 children, homeless. Most did not live in the units slated for demolition. A policy of demolition attackers’ family homes is collective punishment - prohibited under IHL. Despite widely held legal experts’ opinion that this radical measure is unlawful, the HCJ repeatedly approves it. Demolishing or sealing a home is a draconian measure targeting entire families who have done nothing and are suspected of nothing.
On 1 July , the police sealed the home of ‘Udai Abu al-Jamal, one of the perpetrators of the Har Nof synagogue attack last November. His family received a demolition order two days after the attack, and a petition filed by HaMoked to stop it was rejected. Sealing a home is a draconian, vindictive measure taken against an entire family, suspected of nothing.
Since the Nov. 2014 attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in which Palestinians killed four worshippers and wounded seven, the authorities have threatened punitive action against the assailants’ families: demolition of the homes and deportation the wife of one of them, Nadia Abu al-Jamal. She and her children may be cut off from family and friends and denied many official services. The children would lose their state health insurance. Israel must stop punitive measures against family members who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.
On 27 Nov. 2014, Adv. Michael Sfard petitioned the High Court of Justice on behalf of HaMoked and 7 other Israeli human rights organizations to rule the policy of punitive home demolition unlawful. The petition is backed by a legal expert opinion authored by some of Israel’s top jurists, asserting that the policy severely contravenes international humanitarian and human rights law and the fundamental tenet of Israeli law whereby people cannot be punished for actions other than their own. The opinion stresses that this policy may be considered a war crime in certain circumstances, with the attendant risk for those involved in its implementation.
Israeli Prime Minister has ordered the demolition or sealing of the homes of the families of the Palestinians who carried out recent attacks against Israelis. This action constitutes harming the innocent. It is collective punishment that is both unlawful and immoral. The security establishment has announced its intention to demolish or seal six homes: three in East Jerusalem, one in Nablus and one in Hebron. Since 1967 Israeli security forces have demolished hundreds of homes to punish relatives of Palestinians who harmed or allegedly harmed Israelis.
Last night (18 Aug.) the military demolished the homes of two of the suspects in the abduction and killing of the three yeshiva students, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah, near Gush Etzion two months ago. The home of a third suspect was sealed. The homes were demolished after the HCJ denied three petitions filed by HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, leaving 23 innocent people, including 13 minors, without a roof over their heads. The HCJ's ruling is not surprising: for decades, the HCJ has denied the vast majority of the petitions filed against punitive house demolitions and refused to recognize the unlawfulness of this practice.
It is unsurprising that the HCJ rejected HaMoked’s petition against demolition of the home of the 2 Palestinians charged with killing Baruch Mizrahi as it has rejected most such petitions against punitive home demolitions, refusing to recognize their unlawfulness. Since 1967 the military has rendered homeless thousands of people not themselves accused of wrongdoing. The military gave up this policy in 2005, yet the state considers it justified now in view of the circumstances. This unreasonable position is meant to sanction draconian measures of collective punishment in response to the charged public atmosphere in the wake of the abduction and killing of 3 yeshiva students.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that the family home of the two Palestinians indicted for the attack that killed Baruch Mizrahi be demolished. Two families numbering 13 individuals, including 8 children, live in that home. Demolition of the home would equal adoption of an official policy that harms the innocent. "We have nowhere else to go. If the house is demolished, we'll put a tent on top of the ruins and live there" said Hanan ‘Awawdeh to B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'abri, who visited her last week and took the photos. Following an urgent objection filed by Israeli human rights organization HaMoked, the military announced its intention to demolish only the section of the house. The military is set to carry out the demolition tomorrow, Monday, at 12:00 midday.
The intention to demolish the family home of the two Palestinians charged with the killing of Baruch Mizrahi means adopting an official policy of harming the innocent. The two suspects will be tried for the attack, and are expected to be sentenced to long periods of detention. Their family members, who are not suspected of any offence, are the ones who will suffer the loss of their home: 13 people are currently living in the house, including 8 children. Years ago, the army concluded that punitive home demolitions are not an effective measure to deter attacks against Israelis. It seems therefore that the motives are reaping revenge and politically capitalizing on the current public mood in Israel, in light of the abduction.
B'Tselem has written to the Israeli Attorney General, Adv. Yehuda Weinstein, requesting him to reject the Israel Security Agency (ISA) recommendation to demolish the 'Awarta homes of the families of Amjad and Hakim Awad, who murdered five members of the Fogel family in March 2011. B'Tselem Executive Director Jessica Montell wrote that the attack carried out by Amjad and Hakim Awad is shocking and horrifying. Nothing about that attack, however, makes harming their relatives, who were never found guilty of involvement of any kind, legal or moral.
The demolition of houses as punishment is a grave breach of international humanitarian law. It is a clear case of collective punishment, which violates the principle that a person is not to be punished for the acts of another.