Israeli forces early Saturday raided the village of Beit Amra in the municipality of Yatta and destroyed the family home of a 16-year-old Palestinian accused of stabbing and killing an Israeli settler in January, amid an ongoing Israeli blockade imposed in central Yatta.
Popular resistance coordinator in the village Ratib Jbour told Ma'an that after a large number of Israeli forces at 2 a.m. raided Beit Amra west of Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli bulldozers razed the two-storey house belonging to Mourad Badir Adais's family to the ground. The building housed ten people.
Israeli forces also raided several other homes and a medical lab in the village, and briefly detained 15-year-old Moataz Jamal Abu Arram, according to Jbour.
The Palestinian liaison office in Hebron secured Moataz's release Saturday afternoon, and also negotiated with Israeli authorities to allow Tawjihi documents to enter Yatta so they could reach high school students who have been struggling to prepare for the critical exams and commute to school amidst the siege.
The municipality of Yatta announced later on Saturday that they provided the Adais family with temporary housing until their home is rebuilt.
During a visit by Yatta Mayor Musa Makhamra and the Fatah secretary general in Yatta Kamal Makhamra, Makhamra condemned the Israeli authorities' demolition of the Adais family home as an act of collective punishment on the 10 residents.
He added that a committee was formed to rebuild and reconstruct homes demolished by Israel, praising the cooperative relations between the people of Yatta who will collaborate to help rebuild the Adais house as soon as possible.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that the overnight punitive demolition was carried out because Mourad was accused of stabbing an Israeli settler to death on Jan. 17.
The Palestinian teenager allegedly “infiltrated” the illegal Israeli settlement of Otniel and stabbed 39-year-old Dafna Meir, a mother of six, before fleeing the scene. Meir was treated for severe injuries before succumbing to her wounds.
After a two-day manhunt, Israeli forces detained Mourad -- then 15 years old -- on suspicions of carrying out the attack.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Palestinian minor was indicted for the case in February, when military prosecutors claimed Mourad decided to carry out the attack after “watching videos on Facebook portraying Israeli soldiers as murderers who defile young Palestinian women.”
Israeli authorities delivered the demolition order to the family on Feb. 5, and was given until Feb. 9 to appeal the decision.
The family’s appeal was rejected by Israeli justices, by charging that while there was no evidence that the family was aware their teenage son was planning an attack, they had “closed their eyes” to what was happening, according to Haaretz.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the fall fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals. Several demolitions have been carried out since, despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that said the practice is not only ineffective in preventing attacks, but increases hostility towards Israel.
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.
The incident comes amid sweeping punitive measures imposed by Israeli authorities against Palestinians in the wake of a gun attack in Tel Aviv carried out by residents of Yatta, which has beencompletely and indefinitely sealed.
The blockade imposed on the village of 65,000 in turn affects thousands of others Palestinians in surrounding villages that depend on the municipality for various services. Beit Amra is one such village, which is currently under a partial siege with just one of its three entrances open, according to local sources.
On Thursday, Israeli authorities raided the family homes of the two gunmen to take measurements for their demolitions. According to Middle East Eye, four other families will be left homeless when the structures are destroyed.
In response the the attack, Israeli authorities also froze more than 83,000 permits allowing Palestinians to enter Israel and East Jerusalem during Ramadan. All passages in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have been sealed until midnight Monday. Weekly visitations by elderly Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Al-Aqsa Mosque have also been cancelled.
Newly-appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also issued an order on Thursday to suspend the return of all Palestinian bodies killed during suspected attacks on Israelis, claiming that the measure could prevent future attacks, in spite of his predecessor Moshe Yaalon having argued the policy had only served to exacerbate tensions with Palestinians.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said on Friday the measures "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."