ARMY PERSONNEL demolish illegal sheds near the town of Yatta, south of Hebron yesterday..
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
The army bulldozed two Palestinian homes and related small structures on Sunday near Yatta, hometown of the two gunmen in last week’s Tel Aviv shooting spree.
The buildings – two family homes, a livestock pen and a toolshed – were constructed illegally, said soldiers from the Engineering Corps at the scene.
The demolitions proceeded despite an assurance to international aid agencies from Israel’s coordinator of government activities in the territories that it would refrain from such activity in Area C of the West Bank during Ramadan unless illegal building took place, The Jerusalem Post
The families received a few days’ notice from the army as to the impending demolition, said Muhammad Nawarjja, who lived with his wife and seven children in one of the houses.
Outside the homes, dozens of military police officers milled about for two hours, waiting for a bulldozer to arrive. A crowd of locals greeted them by whipping out smartphones for recording.
The demolitions of the structures, home to 25 members of the extended Nawarjja clan, had families scrambling to unload dressers with clothing in the midday heat.
The bulldozing may not be much of a deterrent; it is the third time in a decade that their house has been razed, Nawarjja said, and the family planned to camp on the site.
“I’m going to stay here,” shouted Hisham Nawarjja, brother and next-door neighbor to Muhammad. “I’m going to wait here and practice steadfastness – even in the sun as I fast.”
The order’s timing left questions unanswered, said attorney Qamar Mashraki from the left-wing NGO Rabbis for Human Rights. It isn’t coincidental that the razing took place as part of an overall army clampdown on the Yatta area, Mashraki said, especially given the relatively short time notice and the Ramadan time frame.
Hailing from Yatta, near Hebron, the Tel Aviv attackers Muhammad and Khaled Makhamra opened fire in the crowded Sarona Market on June 8, killing four Israeli civilians and wounding more than a dozen others.
Following the attack, the army closed roads for several days, visited homes and questioned extended family members as suspects.