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Israel demolishes homes of Palestinians accused of attacks

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Israeli authorities overnight Friday demolished four homes belonging to the families of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly attacks on Israeli settlers, the Israeli army said.

In the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, the homes of Yahia Haj Hamed, Samir Zahir Kusa, and Kerem Lutfi Razek were destroyed, the army said in a statement.

The three were detained on Oct. 5 along with two others after Israel’s Shin Bet identified them as responsible for killing two Israeli settlers on Oct. 1.

In the Ramallah-area town of Silwad, the Israeli army reported that forces demolished the residence of Maad Hamad, who they said killed an Israeli settler on June 29.

The demolitions took place under the order of Israel’s defense minister Moshe Yaalon and are a part of a series of punitive measures being carried out by the Israeli government to “deter” future attacks.

Israeli watchdog Hamoked filed a petition to the Israeli High Court against the four demolitions on Oct. 29.

The group appeals such cases on behalf of Palestinian families on the grounds that punitive home demolition constitutes collective punishment, as the main victims of the demolition are individuals who have not carried out crimes.

Israeli forces resumed the practice of punitive house demolitions in November last year, after stopping them in 2009.

According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, an Israeli army investigation concluded in 2005 that the deterrence value of home demolitions was questionable, and the military decided to stop the practice.

No official reason was given for the resuming the policy last year, and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu last month appointed the Minister of Justice to figure out legal methods for expediting punitive demolitions.

Friday’s demolitions come as the Oct. 1 attack has been viewed by Israeli authorities as the catalyst for a recent wave of violence that has left 83 Palestinians and 12 Israelis dead since.

In the attack, Israeli settlers Naama and Eitam Henkin were shot dead while driving between settlements in the Nablus area.

The attack sparked a series of reprisal attacks by settlers on Palestinians and their property, and was the first of several attacks carried out by Palestinians on Israeli military and civilians.

B’Tselem has pointed to punitive home demolitions as one of several measures implemented solely on Palestinians, while Israeli perpetrators of recent attacks faced little or no legal consequence.

Palestinian leadership and the international community have criticized Israel for neglecting to protect Palestinians living under Israeli occupation from attacks by settlers and lethal use of force by Israeli military. MAANNEWS


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