On 13 December 2018, upon an official decision issued by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who currently serves as the Minister of Defense, to expedite the demolitions of houses belonging to Palestinians carrying out attacks, on Monday morning, 17 December 2018, the Israeli forces demolished a house belonging to Ashraf Na’alwah in Shuweikah Suburb, north of Tulkarm, who was killed in a crime of extra-judicial execution on 13 December 2018. The demolition of the house came after 48 hours of blowing up a house belonging to Abu Hmeid family in al-Am’ari refugee camp in central al-Bireh. The demolition of Na’alwah’s house came also after hours of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in Israel approving a bill submitted by Naftali Bennett, who leads the Jewish Home party, to expel the families of those carrying out attacks. According to the Bill, the Israeli Forces’ Central Command chief will be able to expel the families of those carrying or trying to carry out an attack within seven days from the date of the incident.
The Palestinian Center for human Rights (PCHR) accordingly condemns this new crime, which is added to the series of Israeli crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). PCHR also emphasizes that the crime is part of the Israeli forces’ collective punishment policy against innocent Palestinians in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits collective penalties and reprisals against protected persons and their property. PCHR calls upon the international community to offer protection to the civilians in the oPt and ensure the application of the aforementioned convention.
According to PCHR’s investigations and eyewitnesses’ accounts, at approximately 02:10 on the abovementioned day, the Israeli forces backed by 40 military vehicles, 2 bulldozers, around 170 soldiers and drones moved into Shuwikah Suburb, north of Tulkarm. The soldiers stepped out of their military vehicles and deployed between houses in Na’alwah neighborhood while 50 of them topped the roofs of many houses. Around 100 soldiers raided a 3-story residential building belonging to Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alwah in an attempt to apply the demolition decision while a number of civilians and journalists were inside it. After the Israeli soldiers forced those who were in the house to evacuate it at gunpoint, they deployed in the 3 floors and thoroughly searched the house using a large number of police dogs. The engineering units put signs on the ground floor walls, which consisted of 3 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and 2 bathrooms, and then around 100 soldiers demolished the walls by a bulldozer and hand hammers. Following that, the Israeli forces moved into the underground floor, which was inhabited by Ashraf, and consisted of 2 rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom, and demolished it in the same way. During the demolition, the Israeli forces attempted to prevent around 30 journalists, who were in the area, from photographing the area. The soldiers chased them on houses’ roofs more than once and fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, journalist Mo’een Shadeed, a reporter at Palestine TV Channel, fainted and received medical treatment on the spot. At approximately 09:40, the Israeli forces fired a barrage of sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the civilians, who gathered in the area.
It should be noted that the Israeli “Yamam Unit”, which is known for carrying out extra-judicial killings while undercover like the “Mistarivim” Unit in the Israeli Forces and is dressed like Palestinian civilians, killed Na’alwah on 13 December 2018, in ‘Asker refugee camp, northeast of Nablus. The Israeli forces were chasing Na’alwah since 07 October 2018 on grounds of accusing him of carrying out a shooting attack in Barkan Industrial area, west of Salfit, which caused the killing of 2 Israeli settlers and injury of another one.
PCHR again condemns the crime of blowing up the abovementioned building and maltreatment of Palestinian civilians as both are part of the collective punishment policy adopted by the Israeli forces against the Palestinian civilians. PCHR again emphasizes that this policy is internationally prohibited according to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that: “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.” Therefore, PCHR reiterates its call upon the international community to take immediate action to put an end to the Israeli crimes. PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the oPt.