The Israeli army last night notified the families of the two Palestinian young men who carried out the recent Tel Aviv operation of its intention to demolish their homes in Yatta town, south of the al-Khalil city.
The family of Muhammad Makhamera, one of the two Palestinians suspected of carrying out a gun attack in Tel Aviv last week, were informed Saturday night by Israeli authorities their house could be destroyed at any moment, and have since then begun moving their belongings.
Abd al-Aziz Abu Fanar, the media coordinator for the municipality in Yatta said that the Makhamera family had started emptying the house after Israeli authorities told them the punitive demolition would be carried out at 4 a.m Sunday, but it has yet to occur.
Rateb al-Jabour, the coordinator of the popular committee against the wall and settlement, said that the Israeli forces tightened the blockade last night on the town and carried out widespread raids on homes and arrests.
Jabour added that the Israeli forces verbally ordered the families of the two cousins, Mohamed, and Khaled Makhamreh, to evacuate their homes as a prelude to demolishing them. However, he did not state when the demolitions would be carried out.
An Israeli army spokesperson denied that the demolition was to take place imminently and said that investigations were still ongoing.
Israeli authorities reportedly raided the Makhamera home on Thursday to take measurements to prepare for the demolition.
Abu Fanar added that Israeli forces continue to impose a tight siege on Yatta that was implemented following the attack, preventing some 120,000 Palestinians from moving freely. While Yatta is home to some 65,000 Palestinians, thousands more are affected by the blockade as several surrounding villages depend on the municipality for its hospitals, schools, and markets.
Reports of the imminent demolition come after Israeli forces on Saturday destroyed the family home of a 16-year-old Palestinian accused of stabbing and killing an Israeli settler in January in the village of Beit Amra, just west of central Yatta.
During a visit by Yatta Mayor Musa Makhamra said, a committee had been formed to rebuild and reconstruct homes demolished by Israel, which is reportedly providing the families affected by both incidents with temporary housing.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the fall fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in an effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals.
However, to carry out a punitive demolition just one week after an attack would be an unusually rapid response.
While families who receive demolition orders are given the opportunity to appeal the measures, Israel’s High Court of Justice typically rejects such appeals, according to Israeli watchdog Hamoked.
Israeli rights group B’Tselem has meanwhile condemned the practice as “court-sanctioned revenge” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment and illegal under international law.
In the wake of the gun attack, sweeping punitive measures have been imposed in the occupied Palestinian territory, in what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said: “may amount to collective punishment and will only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians in this very tense time.”
While “Israel has a human rights obligation to bring those responsible, to account for their crimes,” he continued, “the measures taken against the broader population punish not the perpetrators of the crime, but tens — maybe hundreds — of thousands of innocent Palestinians.”