Israeli forces demolish homes of two Ariel attack suspects, 18 Palestinian family members left homeless
Israeli forces demolished two Palestinian homes on Tuesday in the village of Qarawah Bani Hassan, near Salfit in the northern occupied West Bank. The two houses belonged to the families of 20-year-old Yousef Assi and 19-year-old Yahya Marei.
Assi and Marei are both accused by Israel of being behind a shooting attack in late April that killed an Israeli guard at an illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, near Salfit. Marei and Assi were arrested by Israeli forces shortly after the attack.
The Palestinian child, Ezz-Elddin searches for his bike under the rubble of his family’s house which was destroyed by Israeli forces today in Qarawa Bani Hassan village in Salfit. #IsraeliCrimes #Palestine #BREAKING pic.twitter.com/RxWXZUNUhq— lena abdullah (@lenahussein) July 26, 2022
Assi's family are composed of eight members, including his parents and five younger siblings, the youngest being only three-years-old. Marei's family are composed of 10 members, including his parents, six siblings, the youngest is 10 years old, and his 87-year-old grandfather. In total, 18 people were left homeless.
"We expected the demolition, but not without notice," Samih Assi, Yousef's father, said to The New Arab.
"When the attack on the settlement happened in April, Israeli forces arrested me for more than a month," he added. "Before releasing me they told me to empty the house because it will be demolished, which I did, but I was also told that they will give me notice before the actual demolition."
WATCH | Israeli forces carry out a punitive demolition of the family home of Yahya Maray in the town of Qarawa Bani Hassan, west of Salfit.— Jerusalem24 (@J24FMPalestine) July 26, 2022
Maray is accused of carrying out an attack in the settlement of Ariel in April this year in which one Israeli guard was killed. pic.twitter.com/HlW9BJRzbl
"On Monday after 10:30 pm, Israeli forces suddenly entered Qarawah and came straight to our and the Mareis' houses. They told us that we had 30 minutes to take whatever we could out of the house, so we took the furniture," Assi said.
"After the Israeli bulldozer finished destroying the house, it dumped all the rubble, with the furniture we had tried to save, into one big pile, and so we lost everything, except the clothes we had on as we came out of the house," he added.
"In our case, Israeli forces didn't use the bulldozer, they detonated the house with explosives," Mohammad Marei, Yahya's father, told The New Arab. "They gave us only ten minutes to take what we could, and we only took some clothes and personal important belongings."
In 2019 alone, 10 Palestinian houses were punitively demolished, displacing 22 individuals. Since the start of 2020, 15 Palestinians have been displaced as a result of 4 punitive house demolitions. One of the families underwent two punitive demolitions. #StopCollectivePunishment! pic.twitter.com/GDmFwZ4zGf— Al-Haq الحق (@alhaq_org) July 20, 2020
"It was a state of chaos and fear," said Marei. "Children were frightened and crying, and I could only think that we were losing everything as the explosion destroyed the house with all our belongings inside it."
Israel systematically demolishes the homes of relatives of Palestinian accused of violent acts against Israeli armed forces or civilians as a punitive measure.
The practice has significantly increased since 2015 when the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights deemed it "a violation of international law". Various human rights groups condemned punitive house demolitions, considering it a form of collective punishment, and amounting to "a war crime".
According to the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, Israel punitively demolished six Palestinian houses in 2019 and ten in 2020.