Monday, November 23, 2015

Shooting Palestinians in the back and ''accidentally'' blowing up the houses of neighbours of ''terrorists''

Home of the ‘Amer family, neighbors of the Abu Shahins, damaged by the demolition and no longer habitable. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B’Tselem, 16 Nov. 2015
The homes of neighbours of Muhammed Abu Shahin, whose house was destroyed as punishment, ware destroyed as well. This used to be the house of his neighbours, the family 'Amer. (see below). (Photo B'tselem). 

Soldiers from the Israeli Border Police and the IDF’s Home Front Command shot and killed 22-year-old Yousef Awad in the West Bank village of Budrus last Friday, reporting that he tried to grab a weapon from a soldier. He was, however, from shot in the back and from some distance. 
The Israeli army reported that ''during a violent and illegal riot in the village Budrus, in which approximately 80 Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails toward the security fence, a main rioter who resisted arrest was detained and even tried to grab the weapon of one of the soldiers. The troops responded by shooting him and a hit was confirmed.''
However forensic evidence, an autopsy and photo's of the wounds on Awad's body, show that he was shot from behind. Moreover Palestinian friends who were with him testified that Awad was first shot in a leg with a rubber bullet, and was grabbed by the soldiers. When he managed to get away and ran, he was shot again, in the back this time and with live ammunition,  from a distance of about three meters.
By a strange coincidence, just this week, the Israeli High Court issued a judgment in a case that was very similar to this one, which took place three years ago at exactly the same spot. The court ordered, after having heard a petition by the Human rights organization B'tselem and family members, that the Israeli State attorney must file indictments against two soldiers who were involved in the killing of 16-year old Samir Awad in 2013, also in Budrus and at the same spot near the ''security fence'',  in almost the same circumstances. Also Samir was shot in the back when he ran for the soldiers and so posed no threat at all.  The two soldier are not persecuted for murder, however. The charges read “a reckless and negligent act using a firearm”.
B'tslemen that filed the petition reacted angrily by stating: '' The State Attorney’s Office, whose decision endorsed filing indictments on this minor charge, reiterated yet again the message to Israeli security forces in the Occupied Territories: even if you kill an unarmed Palestinian who poses no threat, we will do everything to cover it up and ensure impunity. On another matter, it is also not clear why it took almost three years and a petition to the HCJ for the authorities to decide to indict on such charges.''
The cases are reminiscent of the killing of a Jordanian judge of Palestinian descent in March 2014.  About judge Raed Zuayter the army also reported that he tried to grab the weapon of a soldier, while several witnesses reported that he was provoked and reacted angrily after he was pushed to the ground by one of the soldiers and finally was shot from some distance. No indictments have yet been filed in this case.

B'tselem has also something to say about how the army blows up houses of presumed (not yet convicted)  ''terrorists. B'tselem reports that the army set out to destroy the house of the families of six ''terrorists'', but in doing so destroyed no less than eight apartments of neighbours as well, so that the end result was that 14 apartments were made inhabitable and scores of other people made homeless.
 In the Qalandia camp near Jerusalem the house of Muhammad Abu Shahin was destroyed, who was accused of killing the Israeli Dany Gonen in June. In Nablus four houses were destroyed, as well as one in Silwad near Ramallah, which belonged to people accused of murdering the couple Na'ama and Eitam Henkin on 1 October.  B'tselem describes what happened:
''Security forces called on loudspeakers to the residents of nearby houses, instructing them to leave their homes and move about 100 meters away. When Abu Shahin’s apartment was blown up, the apartment on the floor below it was also damaged, as was an apartment in a nearby building that was home to four people, including two minors. Both apartments were severely damaged and are no longer habitable. Another five apartments in nearby buildings were also damaged, but to a lesser extent. Initial information gathered by B’Tselem indicates that while the security forces were in the refugee camp on the demolition mission, an exchange of gunfire developed between them and local residents; Ahmad Abu al-‘Eish, 30, and Laith As’ad, 20, were killed by Israeli gunfire. Three other Palestinians were taken to hospital after sustaining wounds from live fire or rubber-coated metal bullets. B’Tselem’s investigation of the incident is under way.
The day before, in the early hours of Saturday 14 November, Israeli security forces came to the city of Nablus and the village of Silwad, Ramallah District, and blew up five apartments as collective punishment for attacks against Israelis carried out by relatives of the homes’ inhabitants. The force of the blasts severely damaged six other apartments, making them uninhabitable, and caused some damage to 16 other structures nearby.
  • In the family home of Samir al-Kusa, Israeli security forces blew up the first-floor apartment in which his wife and three children lived. The force of the blast severely damaged two other apartments on the second floor, leaving them uninhabitable. This left homeless Samir al-Kusa’s wife, his three children (all minors), and his brother and sister-in-law and their son (a minor).
  • In the building that was home to the family of Yehya al-Haj Hamad, security forces blew up his parents’ apartment on the second floor, in which Hamad lived prior to his arrest, and another apartment built for him on the floor above. The force of the blast also damaged apartments under construction on the first and fourth floors, which were not inhabited and are now unlivable. This left eleven of Hamad’s relatives homeless, including his parents and five minors.
  • In the building that was home to the family of Karam Rizeq (al-Masri), security forces blew up the apartment in which he lived prior to his arrest together with four relatives, on the second floor of a three-story building. The force of the blast severely damaged apartments on the first and third floors of the building, which are no longer livable. This left twelve people homeless, including four minors.
  • In the village of Silwad, security forces blew up the home of the mother and brother of Mu’az Hamed, who was arrested on suspicion of having killed Israeli Malachi Rosenfeld on 29 June 2015. The two had left the house after an order for its demolition was issued in October. The blast damaged eight structures nearby.
B'tselem adds that it is not the first time house destructions were executed in that way. ''A comprehensive 2004 report by B’Tselem,'' it says, ''found that 295 of the homes destroyed, about half of the homes demolished from 2001 to 2004, no claim was made that they had housed Palestinian perpetrators of attacks against Israelis. This left 1,286 people homeless in addition to those whose homes Israel explicitly slated for demolition. In demolitions carried out by Israeli authorities in October, two apartments adjacent to those slated for demolition were also destroyed by the blast.

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