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Israeli court rejects appeal against home demolition of Palestinian attacker's family

Aug. 22, 2016 11:05 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 30, 2016 8:55 A.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- The family of Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Abd al-Majid Amayreh, who Israel accused of being an accomplice in a shooting attack last month which left one Israeli settler dead, said on Monday that an Israeli court decided to demolish their family home in the village of Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron.

Members of the Amayreh family told Ma’an that Israeli human rights group Hamoked submitted an appeal on behalf of the family after they were issued a punitive demolition order one month ago, but the Israeli court rejected the appeal.

The appeal, they said, explained to the court that Amayreh’s family and his children who live in the house did not know he was planning to carry out an attack, and should therefore not be subjected to having their home destroyed.

Israel accused Amayrehh of carrying out a drive by shooting on July 1 along with Muhammad al-Faqih -- who was later killed by Israeli forces when they bombarded the house he was fortified in -- on Route 60 between the illegal Israeli settlements of Beit Hagai and Otniel south of Hebron.

According to the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, Amayreh, 38, admitted to driving the car from which Faqih shot at the Israeli family's car.

The attack resulted in the death of Otniel resident Michael Marc, and critically injured his wife Chava, with two of their children, Pdaya, 15, and Tehila, 14, sustaining moderate and light wounds, respectively.

After the deadly attack, which came hours after Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian woman in Hebron's Old City for an alleged stab attempt at Israeli soldiers, and a day after a stab attack in the Hebron-area settlement of Kiryat Arba that left a 13-year-old Israeli girl dead, Israeli forces launched a widespread manhunt for Faqih and Omaireh.

A gunman for a separate shooting attack in Hebron on July 9 also remained at large during the manhunt, with the suspect reportedly having fled into the Hebron area village of Sair.

The closures that were imposed across the district of Hebron amounted to the most extensive lockdown on the occupied West Bank since 2014, disrupting the access of hundreds of thousands of residents to services and livelihoods, according to the UN, who said the measures amount to collective punishment on innocent Palestinians.

Villages in Hebron which had been completely sealed over the month of July included Sair, Yatta, and Bani Naim. Some 2,700 Palestinian residents of Bani Naim have had their travel permits revoked.

Scores of Palestinians were also detained in overnight raids in Hebron, and dozens of others injured during clashes between locals and Israeli forces.

According to the UN, 50 Palestinians, including 14 children, were injured by Israeli forces during clashes in the West Bank between July 5 and 11 -- almost all during detention raids, the largest of which took place in Amayreh’s hometown of Dura, which resulted in 38 injuries. In the same week, Israeli forces conducted 98 search and detention operations and arrested 95 Palestinians, with Hebron accounting for the highest number of operations and arrests.

Israel’s response to attacks -- such as punitive home demolitions, the sealing of entire villages, mass detention campaigns, and withholding the bodies of Palestinians slain while committing attacks -- has been condemned by rights groups, who have said the measures amount to “collective punishment” and “court-sanctioned revenge,” and represent a clear violation of international law.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in an effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals in the wake of a wave of violence that has swept across the West Bank since October, leaving 218 Palestinians dead.

While families, like the Amayrehs, who receive demolition orders are given the opportunity to appeal the measures, Israel’s High Court of Justice typically rejects such appeals, according to Hamoked.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem has 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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