IDF’s demolition of Palestinian home sparks clashes in West Bank

© Times of Israel
At least three people were wounded in clashes with the IDF as army troops bulldozed a Palestinian suspect’s house in West Bank. Angry locals reportedly threw Molotov cocktails and fired makeshift guns at the soldiers.

The demolition took place on Monday in the town of Qabatiya, AFP reported. IDF forces bulldozed the house of Bilal Abu Zeid who Israeli authorities believe is an accomplice of a group of Palestinians involved in a February attack that left one Israeli police officer dead and one injured. Zeid is currently being held in Israeli prison.

Heavy clashes erupted after a military convoy arrived in the area. Palestinians used improvised weapons and threw Molotov cocktails and at the soldiers who resorted to rubber bullets and live fire.

There are conflicting reports as to how many people were injured. While the Israeli army said that three Palestinians were shot, Palestinian officials said that as many as six people were injured either with live fire or rubber bullets.

Israeli authorities accuse Bilal Abu Zeid of assisting three Palestinians who took part in an attack outside the Old City's Damascus Gate on February 3. The Palestinians were killed at the scene and their homes were later demolished.

In a separate incident on Monday which occurred south of Bethlehem, in the southern part of West Bank, a Palestinian assailant was shot and arrested after he reportedly stabbed two IDF soldiers.

Israel frequently resorts to the demolition of accused Palestinian’s homes saying the measure is necessary as a deterrent to terror attacks. The practice is condemned by Palestinians and rights groups who believe it is unlawful.

“In the vast majority of cases, the person whose actions prompted the demolition was not even living in the house at the time of the demolition,” B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group said as quoted by WAFA news agency.

“Since this constitutes deliberate harm to innocents, it is clear that even if house demolition had the desired deterrent effect, it would, nevertheless, remain unlawful.”

Since last October at least 215 Palestinians and 34 Israelis lost their lives in enduring violence both in Israeli and the Palestinian territories. Many of them were killed in clashes and protests.

Israel has been under fire for its demolition campaign which the international community views as a major impediment to establishing peace in the area. Overall, this year’s rate of Palestinian home demolition in the West Bank is the highest on record since 2009, while, at the same time, the expansion of the internationally condemned Israeli settlements in the occupied territories continues to increase.

At the beginning of the month the UN Secretary General denounced Israel’s clearing of Palestinian homes and its intentions to establish “some 560 housing units in the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim”.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said that “punitive home demolitions are a form of collective punishment which are illegal under international law”.

“UNRWA condemns punitive demolitions and reminds Israel, the occupying power, that under international humanitarian law it has an obligation to protect the occupied people and provide services,” it added.