Punitive Demolitions ~ An Illegal, Inhumane Form of “Deterrence”

Israeli Security Forces ~ Shu'fat Refugee Camp Photo Credit: Public Domain

Israeli Security Forces ~ Shu’fat Refugee Camp
Photo Credit: Public Domain

It typically transpires like this ~ A person is involved or suspected of being involved in an act of violence. Guilt is not established by a judge or jury as the person is most likely neutralized (killed) rather than arrested. The Israeli army then identifies the family of the alleged perpetrator and proceeds to demolish their home. The reason given is that this provides a deterrent for others who might be tempted to carry out such acts. It’s called a punitive demolition. But the alleged perpetrator is not the one being punished. Rather, it is his/her family ~ often a wife and children. So not only have they been deprived of a husband or father but they are also then homeless. It is just one more form of collective punishment which violates the fundamental principle that an individual may not be punished for the acts of someone else. In addition, these punitive demolitions usually result in damage to nearby areas and adjacent homes. Not even the best engineer can hope to blow up an apartment on the ground floor of a three-story building in a crowded refugee camp and expect there to be no related damages.

Ruins of 'Aiwela Home ~ Nablus Photo Credit: Salma a-Deb'i, B'Tselem

Ruins of ‘Aiwela Home ~ Nablus
Photo Credit: Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem

According to B’tselem, on the night of December 3, Israeli military forces entered Nablus and blew up the home of Ragheb ‘Aliewa’s wife and two-year-old son. ‘Aleiwa is accused of involvement in the attack in which Na’ama and Eitam Henkin were killed on October 1. The explosion in the family’s apartment, located on the second floor of a four-story building, damaged other units as well. The adjacent apartment, where Ragheb’s brother lived with his wife and their three young children was completely destroyed. Damage was also caused to two apartments on the first floor, where ‘Aleiwa’s parents live as well as another brother with his wife and children.

Ruins of 'Akari Home ~ Shu'fat Refugee Camp Photo Credit: Mus'ab 'Abbas, B'Tselem

Ruins of ‘Akari Home ~ Shu’fat Refugee Camp
Photo Credit: Mus’ab ‘Abbas, B’Tselem

On the previous day, December 2, over 1,000 military personnel and police entered Shu’fat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem and blew up the family home of Ibrahim ‘Akari, who was killed last year after carrying out a vehicular attack. The home, occupied by Amira ‘Akari and her five young children, is located on the top floor of a three-story building. The explosion destroyed three adjacent apartments leaving 14 people, including seven children, without a home.  ~ In these two punitive demolitions, the damage Israeli authorities caused to six adjacent apartments was so extensive as to render them inhabitable. As a result, 27 innocent people, including 16 children, were left homeless.

With this recent wave of violence, Netanyahu has pledged to expedite punitive home demolitions, despite an Israeli military committee report that says the policy does not deter future attacks but only increases hostility against Israel, according to the Israeli rights group Hamoked. As the Israeli journalist, Amira Haas, has recently written in Ha’aretz: “… Either the politicians, army personnel, and judges in Israel are stupid, and the nation that encourages them is blind, or they are consciously interested in escalation and expansion of Palestinian acts of desperation.” And Netanyahu accuses the Palestinians of incitement? I wonder if it has occurred to anyone that putting an end to 48 years of occupation might be a better strategy.

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1 Response to Punitive Demolitions ~ An Illegal, Inhumane Form of “Deterrence”

  1. wendy says:

    Dawn, thanks for bringing all this to the attention of many. My heart is heavy with the thought of those homeless families. There’s no sense in any of this. But you already know that.

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