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Israel demolishes West Bank homes of accused Palestinian killers

Palestinians look at rubble of the house of a Palestinian man who the Israeli military said killed an Israeli traveling to the West Bank in June. The home in Silwad was demolished Nov. 14 by the Israeli army.

Palestinians look at rubble of the house of a Palestinian man who the Israeli military said killed an Israeli traveling to the West Bank in June. The home in Silwad was demolished Nov. 14 by the Israeli army.

(Abbas Momani / AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli army units Saturday demolished four West bank homes of families of Palestinians accused of killing Israelis -- two days after the action was cleared by the nation’s Supreme Court.

Three of the homes, demolished with explosives or heavy drills, were in Nablus and belonged to the families of three Palestinians arrested last month on charges of attacking and killing an Israeli couple on Oct. 1 on a road not far from the northern West Bank city.

The fourth home was located in the village of Silwad, near Ramallah. It belonged to the family of a Palestinian accused of killing an Israeli in June in an attack near Nablus.

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An Israeli human rights group, HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, had petitioned the Supreme Court on behalf of six Palestinian families whose homes were slated for demolition as a punitive measure. The court rejected the petition and ruled Thursday in favor of demolishing five homes and the evacuating the sixth because it is located in an eight-story apartment building.

The court ruled that demolishing the apartment in a building occupied by otherwise uninvolved people was not a proportionate measure that would help deter future attacks.

In the ruling, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor wrote that the demolition policy as a whole raises “difficult questions” and at times poses a “moral dilemma.” She said the state was obliged to continually review the effectiveness of the policy, which it regards as a deterrent.

In its lawsuit, the human rights group said the policy, based on British emergency regulations adopted prior to the birth of Israel in 1948, constitutes a form of collective punishment contrary to international law.

Residents said dozens of Israeli military vehicles raided several Nablus neighborhoods and surrounded the family homes of three alleged members of the militant Hamas movement who were held responsible for an attack that killed a Jewish couple, Naama and Eitam Henkin, in the West Bank on Oct. 1.

After forcing the residents to leave the homes and evacuating nearby buildings, the Israeli forces tore down the residences of Yahia Haj Hamad, Samir Kusah and Karam Razeq, the latter of whom was arrested in October in a Nablus hospital bed by Israeli security agents disguised as Palestinians.

In Silwad, Israeli forces surrounded and blew up the home of Maad Hamed after evacuating its residents. The explosion was caught on video by residents in the area. Hamed was accused of shooting Malachi Rosenfeld as he drove home from a basketball game in June. Rosenfeld was critically injured and later died of his wounds.

The apartment involved in the court ruling was that of Abdullah Ishak, whom the Israeli government identified as an accomplice in the killing of Rosenfeld.

Neighbors in the areas of the four demolitions reported damage to their own homes. The Palestinian government condemned the demolitions, accusing Israel of committing war crimes.

A Palestinian statement said the “daily killing” of Palestinians “proves to the entire world that Israel is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.” It said these acts would only “undermine security, stability and peace in the region and the world.”

Hamas said the demolition of the homes “will not stop our people from resisting the occupation.” “Demolition of homes is a criminal and blatant violation,” it said in a statement, adding that “our brave fighters will respond in their own way” to the demolition of the homes.

Special correspondent Abukhater reported from Ramallah, and Sobelman from Jerusalem.

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