Israeli officials: Recent demolition of 22 homes in Nablus was ‘a mistake”

September 7, 2006 2:04 PM IMEMC & Agencies Miscellaneous, News Report, Palestine 0

On Saturday the 26th of August, Israeli military invaded the Jabal
Shamali area of Nablus and destroyed 22 homes, according to an
eyewitness report from the International Solidarity Movement. The next
day, Israel’s largest newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the home
demolition was “a mistake,” and that the Israeli military failed to
arrest two to three Fatah activists that were the target of the
operation.

At the end of the incursion, five individual houses and one three-storey block of flats were destroyed. One of the six buildings demolished was a community meeting hall, the others were homes belonging to the Saedi, G’name, Sa’eah and Lubaddeh families. Eight cars were also totally wrecked, five of which were dumped onto a neighboring house, causing structural damage in the form of broken base-beams in the roof and the bending of walls.

Additional houses were also damaged during the demolition. The home adjacent to the structure damaged by the demolished cars was severely burned, and three homes west of the apartment block were 80% destroyed and are now unlivable. In total, 22 homes and apartments were completely demolished, and an additional five homes were made unliveable.

About 100 people were made homeless by the Israeli military’s actions and are now evacuated to friends’ homes in surrounding neighborhoods, or forced to rent apartments around Nablus. With the help of friends and neighbors, they have removed the remains of their homes that were not completely bullet-ridden or shredded by bulldozers and are now planning on rebuilding the homes as they were.

The families have been given $15,000 collectively from the Palestinian government as aid for rebuilding their homes, and friends and neighbors collected an additional $17,000 for the same purpose. This is, however, far from enough money. The cost of rebuilding the Lubaddeh block of flats alone, as estimated by engineers, will amount to about $550,000.

The issue of home demolitions has been discussed at length by the Israeli High Court of Justice in many cases, including Janimat V. IDF Military Commander 1997. In the discussion of this case, published by the Israeli Supreme Court in “Judgments of the Israeli Supreme Court: Fighting Terrorism within the Law”, the Justices argue, “home demolitions are allowed only in light of especially serious terrorist activities, such as involvement in suicide bombings aimed at civilians… The demolitions are subject to legal principals, such as the principle of proportionality. For example, the measure may only be used if it is possible to limit it to the terrorist’s home, without demolishing adjacent dwellings. (60)” In addition, the President of the Court, A. Barak states, “[Demolitions are] implemented in stages and with care in order to prevent damage to the rest of the building. If damage is caused, it will be repaired. (62)” In the case of this incursion, the homes were demolished while searching for suspects, not “in light of especially serious terrorist activities.” In addition, 22 homes were demolished in their attempt to arrest, clearly violating the “principal of proportionality.” According to President Barak, the homes’ of the residents will be repaired, though follow through on this is unlikely.

Nizar Lubbadeh, who gave himself up to be arrested in a desperate bid to stop the demolition of his and his family’s home, was released shortly after questioning. One other man, Mohammad Ayad, was however arrested after the demolition and is still in jail.

According to the Nablus Municipality, 220 buildings have been destroyed in Nablus since the beginning of the current Intifada in September 2000. This number excludes the large number of homes destroyed in Israel’s “Operation Defensive Shield” in 2002. Following this most recent incursion into Jabal Shamali, the number is now up to 242. This attack marks one of the largest houses to be destroyed. Other big demolitions include a 9-storey building in Rafidya Al-Makhfiyya 3 years ago, belonging to Jafar Maasri who was killed by lethal gas in the Old City, and the Al-Sudder family home in New Askar refugee camp about one and a half years ago.

Amer and Allam Lubbadeh, two brothers made homeless by the demolition, urge anyone who wishes to donate money to the rebuilding of their family home to contact the Palestinian Red Crescent in Nablus, by telephone at 09-2384151, or by fax at 09-2380215.

This report was prepared by the International Solidarity Movement, a grassroots group of Palestinians, internationals and Israelis working in solidarity with the Palestinian people.  Their website is http://www.palsolidarity.org

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