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Israeli sealing of Palestinian family homes 'war crime': HRW

Israel's sealing of two Palestinians' family homes 'war crime', HRW says
2 min read
03 February, 2023
Israeli authorities have said they are planning to demolish the family home of a Palestinian suspected of shooting dead seven people in an illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem last week.
Human Rights Watch is among the rights groups to conclude Israel is practicing apartheid against Palestinians [JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images-file photo]

Israeli actions to seal two Palestinians' occupied West Bank family homes constitute the war crime of collective punishment, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

Israeli authorities have said they are planning to demolish one of the homes. Thirty-five Palestinians have been killed so far this year, largely by Israeli forces.

The two Palestinians are suspected by Israel of attacks against its citizens.

One of them, 21-year-old Khayri Alqam shot dead six Israelis and a Ukrainian outside a synagogue in the illegal settlement of Neve Yaakov in occupied East Jerusalem last week, one day after a raid by Israeli forces that killed 10 Palestinians in Jenin.

Israeli forces ultimately killed him and his family home is the one Israel has said it's planning to demolish.

HRW Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir said: "Deliberate attacks on civilians are reprehensible crimes.

"But just as no grievance can justify the intentional targeting of civilians in Neve Yaakov, such attacks cannot justify Israeli authorities intentionally punishing families of Palestinian suspects by demolishing their homes and throwing them out on the street."

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A Palestinian teenager on Saturday shot and seriously injured two Israelis in East Jerusalem's Silwan neighbourhood. He was shot and wounded and taken to hospital.

A lawyer for the teenager told HRW that Israeli authorities have arrested his parents and brother.

The country's cabinet agreed to seal the family's home and Israeli rights group HaMoked said Israeli forces have taken control of their house.

"International humanitarian law, including the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibits collective punishment, including deliberately harming the relatives of those accused of committing crimes, in all circumstances," HRW said.

It added that courts around the world have considered collective punishment a war crime.

But the Israeli Supreme Court has "consistently rejected the claim" that the Israeli government's punitive use of home demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territory constitutes collective punishment, HRW continued.

"Various types of collective punishment, such as punitive home demolitions and sweeping movement restrictions against entire areas or communities based on the actions of a few people, are among the policies that Israeli authorities have relied on to systematically oppress Palestinians," HRW said.

HRW, like Amnesty International, is among the rights groups to have concluded that Israel practices apartheid against Palestinians.