UN blasts West Bank house demolitions

“Punitive demolitions are a form of collective penalty that punishes people for acts they did not commit,” says a UN representative.

December 7, 2014 03:47
1 minute read.
A PALESTINIAN removes a wall to allow a bulldozer access to clear the rubble

A PALESTINIAN removes a wall to allow a bulldozer access to clear the rubble at the home of Amer Abu Aysha in Hebron in August. The IDF earlier destroyed the home of Abu Aysha, one of the two main suspects in the June kidnapping and murder of three teenagers.. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)


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NEW YORK – Israel’s resumed practice of demolishing the family of homes of Palestinian and Israeli Arab terrorists violates international law and must be halted, James W. Rawley, the UN’s deputy special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, says.

“Punitive demolitions must stop. They contravene international law and risk undermining the already fragile situation,” Rawley said last week.

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“Human rights violations are not only a symptom of the continued conflict here, they contribute to it.”

Israel suspended the practice of destroying the homes of terrorists in 2005, but reinstated it this summer following the kidnappings and murder of teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel in June.

“Punitive demolitions are a form of collective penalty that punishes people for acts they did not commit,” Rawley said.

“They render innocent people homeless. The impact on children, women and the elderly is particularly devastating.”

Six houses of terrorist families are to be demolished or sealed soon, including three in east Jerusalem, in addition to the five homes authorities sealed or demolished last month.

The demolitions have displaced 34 Arabs, including 16 children, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

All the homes scheduled to be demolished are connected with recent attacks that killed Israelis, including the one in a synagogue in the capital’s Har neighborhood on November 18 that claimed the lives of four worshipers and a policeman.

On November 25, Markiam Wibisono and Leilani Farha, both UN special rapporteurs for the Palestinian territories, said that Israel “cannot go beyond what is sanctioned by international law” in punishments for terrorist attacks.

“In the case of [Abd al-Rahman] al-Shaludi [one of the attackers who rammed his car into a crowd in October], who was shot and killed by Israeli police at the scene of the attack, the demolition of his home in the middle of the night served no other purpose than to punish his innocent parents and five siblings, rendering them homeless,” Farha said. “Simply put: The use of house demolition as a punitive measure is a form of collective punishment contrary to international law.

Israel must immediately end its use of this devastating practice.”

Shaludi killed three-monthold Chaya Zissel Braun and Ecuadorian Karen Yemima Muscara at the Jerusalem Light Rail’s Ammunition Hill stop.

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