Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that Israeli’s punitive demolition of family homes belonging to Palestinians suspected of carrying out terror attacks on Israeli citizens amounts to a potential war crime. They also urge Tel Aviv not to take revenge on whole families.
HRW reports: Israel should impose an immediate moratorium on its policy of demolishing the family homes of Palestinians suspected of carrying out attacks on Israelis. The policy, which Israeli officials claim is a deterrent, deliberately and unlawfully punishes people not accused of any wrongdoing. When carried out in occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, it amounts to collective punishment, a war crime.
In at least five instances in 2014, Israeli authorities have demolished or sealed the family homes of Palestinians suspected of killing Israelis, leaving dozens of people homeless. On November 19, 2014, Israeli forces used explosives to destroy the family home of an East Jerusalem man who ran down and killed a baby girl and fatally wounded a woman on October 22. Israeli authorities have said they will demolish seven more family homes of Palestinians suspected of killing Israelis, including five homes in East Jerusalem.
“Punitive home demolitions are blatantly unlawful,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Israel should prosecute, convict, and punish criminals, not carry out vengeful destruction that harms entire families.”
The Israeli military ended an earlier policy of punitive home demolitions in 1998, but reinstituted it after the start of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000. From 2000 to 2005 Israeli forces punitively destroyed more than 650 Palestinian homes, displacing more than 4,000 people, according to data collected by B’Tselem, an Israeli rights organization. In 2009, Israeli forces punitively demolished and sealed off the family homes of Palestinians who killed Israelis.