As part of the collective punishment policy adopted by the Israeli forces against the families of Palestinians accused of carrying out attacks against Israeli soldiers and/or settlers, on Wednesday early morning, 17 April 2019, the Israeli forces demolished a house belonging to the family of Saleh ‘Omer al-Barghouthi from 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 for civilians in the oPt and ensure the application of the aforementioned convention.
According to PCHR’s investigations and eyewitnesses’ accounts, at approximately 03:00 on the abovementioned day, the Israeli forces backed by 20 military vehicles and armored personnel carriers in addition to a military bulldozer moved into Cooper village, north of Ramallah. The Israeli forces stepped out of their vehicles and deployed on the village streets and between houses. They also topped some of the house roofs and closed the entrance to the family house of Saleh ‘Omer al-Barghouthi amidst Israeli firing of teargas canisters directly at the windows of the nearby houses. Large numbers raided the abovementioned house to apply the demolition decision which the family was informed of previously. At approximately 03:30, the Israeli forces demolished the 1-storey house that was established on an area of 280 square meters and sheltered his wife and 3-year-old son. After the house was completely demolished, the Israeli forces withdrew from the village at approximately 05:30 amidst heavily firing of teargas canisters. As a result, Nabil Diaa’ al-Barghouthi (26) was hit with teargas canister shrapnel to the head.
It should be mentioned that this house is the third of its kind being demolished and/or blown up on these grounds since the beginning of the eyar. On 18 January 2019, the Israeli forces blew up a house belonging to the family of prisoner Khalil Yousef Jabreen (17.5) in Yatta, south of Hebron. Khalil is accused of carrying out a stabbing attack on 16 September 2018 in “Rami Levy” supermarket in the vicinity of “Gush Etzion” settlement, south of Bethlehem; as a result, a settler was killed and another was wounded while Khalil was wounded with several bullets and then arrested. On 07 March 2019, the Israeli forces demolished a house belonging to the family of ‘Asem ‘Omer al-Barghouthi in Cooper village, north of Ramallah. ‘Asem is the brother of Saleh, who was assassinated by Israeli forces in an crime of extra-judcial execution on 12 December 2018 when he was accused of carrying out a shooting attack on 09 December 2018 at a bus stop near “‘Ofra” settlement in northeaster Ramallah and wounding 7 settlers.
PCHR again condemns the crime of demolishing the abovementioned house that is part of 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.