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Palestinian families decry punitive demolitions in Jerusalem

Jan. 6, 2016 9:00 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 1, 2016 8:04 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Two Palestinian families whose homes were demolished and sealed decried on Tuesday Israel’s policy of punitive home demolition for homes belonging to Palestinians who carry out attacks on Israelis.

The homes, located in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, belonged to relatives of Alaa Abu Jamal and Baha Elayyan who were both shot dead on Oct. 13 after carrying out separate attacks that left four Israelis dead.

Abu Jamal’s father told Ma’an that the home demolished earlier this week belonging to his sister, Safaa, who lived in the apartment with her husband and two young daughters.

Israeli forces reportedly stormed the family’s third-floor apartment and evacuated the family at gunpoint before shutting the windows and filling the home with concrete.

The father of Bahaa Elayyan meanwhile told Ma’an that he planned to set up a tent in front of his demolished home and live there despite the onset of winter.

“It’s alright if we are left homeless. What is happening today is a new chapter of the Palestinian nakba (catastrophe) and displacement,” Elayyan said, referring to homes demolished since a wave of unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October.

Elayyan told Ma’an that the family had been targeted by punitive demolition before, when in the 1970s Israeli forces sealed off his father’s home on charges of “resisting the occupation.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the fall fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals that have left over 20 Israelis dead since Oct. 1.

Several demolitions have been carried out since, despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that said the practice is not only ineffective in preventing attacks, but increases hostility towards Israel.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem meanwhile condemned the practice as “court sanctioned revenge” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment and illegal under international law.

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