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Israeli forces demolish home of Palestinian prisoner accused in drive-by shooting

Aug. 30, 2016 11:00 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 30, 2016 5:32 P.M.)
An Israeli soldier stands guard as an army bulldozer with a demolition permit pulls down the house of a Palestinian family near the West Bank town of Hebron on January 20, 2015. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Tuesday morning demolished the home of Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Abd al-Majid Amayreh, accused of being an accomplice in a deadly drive-by shooting attack last month, after an Israeli court rejected an appeal by his family, who argued they had not been aware of or involved in the attack.

The family was left homeless by the demolition, located in the town of Dura south of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank.

Locals told Ma’an that large numbers of Israeli troops stormed the Wadi Sood neighborhood in northern Dura early Tuesday morning and surrounded Amayreh's home before they blew up the one-story building.

The sources added that a bulldozer then tore down walls of the home which had not fallen as a result of the detonation.

Small clashes broke out between Israeli forces and local youth, locals said, highlighting that Israeli soldiers prevented reporters from accessing the area around the home during the demolition.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that a "number of rioters rolled burning tires, hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at Israeli soldiers," while soldiers responded with "riot dispersal" measures including firing stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets, and live fire -- 0.22 caliber bullets.

She also confirmed to Ma'an that the punitive demolition had been carried out in response to Amayreh's "planning and execution of an illegal terror attack," saying he had been the driver in the shooting attack.

Israel had accused Amayreh of carrying out a drive-by shooting along with Muhammad al-Faqih on Route 60 between the illegal Israeli settlements of Beit Hagai and Otniel south of Hebron, which killed an Israeli settler, left his wife critically injured, and moderately injured his son and daughter.

Al-Faqih was later killed after Israeli forces bombarded and destroyed a house while he was inside, by firing anti-tank missiles at the house and ultimately razing it to the ground with bulldozers.

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.

Tuesday’s demolition came after a nearly two-month long battle between Amayreh’s family and Israeli courts.

An Israeli court rejected the family’s final appeal last week, which was submitted on their behalf by Israeli human rights group Hamoked shortly after the July 1 attack, when the family was issued the demolition order.

According to the family, the appeal explained to the court that Amayreh’s family who live in the house did not know he was planning to aid in the attack, and should therefore not be subjected to having their home destroyed.

Israel’s response to Palestinian attacks on Israel -- 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 unrest which has swept across the West Bank since October, during which time 220 Palestinians were killed by Israelis and 32 Israelis were killed by Palestinians.

While families, like the Amayrehs, who receive demolition orders are given the opportunity to appeal the measures, Israel’s Supreme Court 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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