As part of the collective punishment policy adopted by the Israeli forces against the Palestinian civilians accused of carrying out attacks against Israeli soldiers or/and settlers, on Thursday, 07 March 2019, the Israeli forces demolished a house belonging to the family of ‘Asem ‘Omer al-Barghouthi in Cooper village, north of Ramallah. 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 this 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, at approximately 01:30 on the abovementioned day, Israeli forces backed by 20 military vehicles and armored personnel carriers in addition a Volvo military bulldozer moved into Cooper village, north of Ramallah. The soldiers got off their vehicles and deployed in the center of the village and between the houses. A number of them topped the roofs and closed the entrances leading to the vicinity of the family house belonging to detainee ‘Asem ‘Omer al-Barghouthi (33). Many Israeli soldiers then raided the abovementioned house to implement the demolition order which the family previously was informed of. Dozens of Palestinian youngsters and young men then gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli soldiers deployed in the center of the village and set fire to tires. The Israeli soldiers then in response heavily fired teargas canisters at them; as a result, many civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and fainted. Meanwhile, the Israeli military bulldozer was demolishing the walls of the 2-storet house built on an area of 280 square meters. At approximately 04:00, the Israeli forces completely demolished the house and later withdrew from the village.
it should be mentioned that the Israeli supreme court refused on 04 March 2019 the petition submitted by al-Barghouthi family against the house demolition decision. Thus, the court proved again its violation of the international humanitarian law and international human rights law and being one of Israel’s mechanisms to punish the Palestinian civilians and take revenge from innocents.
It is noteworthy that on 08 January 2019 the Israeli forces arrested ‘Asem al-Barghouthi by officers from the Yamam Unit, which is part of the Israeli “Mista’arvim” units and dressed like Palestinian civilians, when he was in Abu Shkeihdem village, north of Ramallah. The Israeli authorities accused al-Barghuthi of shooting at Israel soldiers near “Givat Asaf” settlement outpost, north of Ramallah on 13 December 2018 and killing at the time 2 Israeli soldiers and seriously wounded 2 others. Further, the Israeli authorities accused him of participating with his brother Saleh, who was assassinated by the Israeli soldiers on 12 December 2018, in a shooting incident near “‘Ofra” settlement, east of the city.
It should be mentioned that this house is the second one being demolished and/or blown up on these grounds since the beginning of this year. On 18 January 2019, the Israeli forces blew up a house belonging to the family of Khalil Yousif Jabarin (17.5) in Yata, south of Hebron, as the child was previously arrested after being accused of carrying out a stab attack on 16 September 2018 in “Rami Levi” store in the vicinity of “Ghosh ‘Etzion” settlement complex in southern Bethlehem. At the time, a settler was killed and another was wounded while the abovementioned child was wounded with several bullets and then arrested.
PCHR again condemns the crime of demolishing the abovementioned house that falls under the collective punishment policy adopted by the Israeli forces against the Palestinian civilians. PCHR reiterates 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.