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Israeli forces deliver punitive demolition orders to 3 Palestinian families

July 4, 2017 11:17 A.M. (Updated: July 4, 2017 6:15 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- At least three Palestinian families have been notified that their homes are slated for imminent punitive demolitions, according to copies of the warrants obtained by Ma’an, despite not being charged with wrongdoing, after their relatives were either killed or imprisoned by Israeli forces, over two separate deadly attacks on Israeli forces.

Israeli forces raided the village of Deir Abu Mashaal in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah early Tuesday morning, storming three homes belonging to the families of young men who were shot dead after carrying out an attack in occupied East Jerusalem last month that left an Israeli police officer killed.

Immediately following the June 16 attack, Israeli authorities took measurements of the homes of the alleged assailants -- Baraa Ibrahim Saleh, 18, Adel Hassan Ahmad Ankoush, 18, and Usama Ahmad Ata, 19 -- in preparations for punitive demolitions.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a total of 22 people, the three mens’ family members, will be left homeless by the punitive demolitions.

However, the Israeli army later released a statement saying that two of the homes were delivered demolition orders. It remained unclear which of the three homes in Deir Abu Mashaal was spared a warrant, or if the house -- belonging to either the Ankoush or Ata family -- would receive one at a later date. A copy of one of the orders confirmed that the Saleh house would indeed be demolished.

Demolition order delivered to the family of 18-year-old Baraa Saleh

Meanwhile, during a military raid into the town of Silwad, also in the Ramallah district, Israeli soldiers delivered a demolition order to family of Malik Ahmad Hamid, who was shot, injured, and detained after carrying out an car-ramming attack on April 6 at a junction near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra that killed an Israeli soldier.

The Israeli army's statement also confirmed that the Hamid home was slated for demolition as punishment for the alleged attack.

Demolition order delivered to the family of Malik Hamid

The families were given until 4 p.m. Thursday, July 6, to appeal the orders -- just over two days.

An army spokesperson told Ma'an they were looking into the case to establish further details.

The delivery of the warrants came after the families and the wider communities of Deir Abu Mashaal and Silwad have already been subjected to a series of reprisal measures that are routine following deadly attacks, which have been denounced by rights groups as “collective punishment.”

Four Palestinians were detained over the June 16 attack in Jerusalem, including both the mother and father of Adel Ankoush, after speaking out about the death of their child and being accused of “incitement.”

Additionally, a Jerusalemite Palestinian was detained, over suspicions of transporting the three Palestinians from the occupied West Bank to Jerusalem, and another man from the Ramallah area was also detained for alleged involvement in planning the attack.

Israeli authorities have continued to implement restrictive policies on Palestinians in Deir Abu Mashaal, Israeli NGO B'Tselem reported last week, after it was placed under a military blocked immediately following the attack.

“This automatic form of retaliation has become a matter of policy for the military, in a cynical abuse of its power to mistreat civilians,” B’Tselem said.

Family members of the alleged assailants had their Israeli work permits revoked, including 50 who were dependent on work inside Israel. Some 250,000 Palestinians who had received family visitation permits to enter Jerusalem and Israel during Ramadan also saw their permits revoked following the attack.

The bodies of the three alleged assailants have continued to be held by Israeli authorities, as Israel is known to withhold Palestinian bodies from their families for extended periods of time after they have carried out an attack, alleging that funerals of “martyrs” -- Palestinians killed by Israeli forces -- encourage “incitement” against the Israeli state.

Meanwhile, in response to the deadly car ramming in which Hamid was arrested, Israeli forces detained at least two of his relatives in Silwad, confiscated at least 40,000 shekels ($10,970) in “terror funds,” and rescinded work permits of a number of Hamid’s relatives.

A lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society who visited Hamid had previously reported that the detainee was assaulted and stripped by interrogators at Israel’s notorious Russian Compound detention center.

Similar to measures in Deir Abu Mashaal, B’Tselem also documented a range of collective punishment procedures being enacted on Silwad’s 10,000 residents, including the installation of roadblocks, restrictions on movement, arbitrary searches of residents, and late-night raids.

“The military disrupted the lives of more than 10,000 people who did nothing wrong and were suspected of no wrongdoing. This disruption of daily life is morally and legally indefensible, and is entirely based on a policy of violence that cynically exploits the military’s authority in order to abuse and intimidate a civilian population,” the group wrote in the report.

The army had also taken measurements of Hamid’s home in Silwad in preparation for the punitive demolition.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in an effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals since the beginning of a wave of violence across the occupied Palestinian territory in late 2015.

The move came despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks. B’Tselem has condemned the practice of punitive home demolitions and work permit confiscations as "court-sanctioned revenge" carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment.

The order to the Saleh family read (the others were said to have provided identical terms):

To the Saleh family (via attorney Labib Habib by hand)

Subject: announcement of intention to confiscate and demolish a home

1. Commander of Israeli forces in Judea and Samaria (occupied West Bank) in his capacity as military commander in accordance with Article 119 of defense law (emergency) 1945, and in accordance with all other security law and legislation, announces here his intention to confiscate and demolish the whole building in Deir Abu Mashaal (coordinates on attached aerial photo are 3542389/695310). The building belongs to terrorist Baraa Ibrahim Muhammad Saleh, ID number 403877634.

2. This procedure is being taken because the above-mentioned participated in a complicated attack involving shooting and stabbing on July 16, 2017 (sic) in which police officer Hadas Malka was killed.

3. In case you wish to appeal or demur against this intention, you have to deliver your claims in writing to the commander of Israeli forces before 6/7/2017 at 4 p.m. via the public complaints office at the bureau of the central command. (Email and phone number provided.)

4.You should attach documents and other evidence that support your claims.
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