19th August 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Khalil team | Hebron, Occupied Palestine
Yesterday, the Israeli army demolished the homes of three Palestinian families in al-Khalil (Hebron).
At around 11pm on August 17th, a large Israeli military presence began to accumulate in the area of Daersat Alser where the homes of Abu Eisha and Marwan Qawasmeh’s families are located. Parts of both of these homes were demolished last month as part of the collective punishment that took place all over the West Bank after the deaths of three Israeli settler youths.
A group of Palestinians and internationals made several attempts to move closer to the home to document but soldiers began to target the group with the lasers of their guns to prevent them from moving closer. Immediately after the Israeli army had left the path to the home of Abu Eisha, it was possible to view the damage made. A side of the house on the top floor was blown out and damage to most of the walls and interior of the house was extensive.
Before dawn rounds of tear gas were fired from an Israeli jeep towards the home of Abu Eisha. Internationals also noticed a small white drone circling around the entire area.
Up until the early hours there was still a heavy military presence on the main road of the Daersat Alser area. 17 armoured military jeeps, eight cement trucks and around 80 Israeli soldiers and police were visible at the beginning of the path towards the home of Marwan Qawasmeh.
Preparation had begun to seal the home with cement in order to render it unusable.
Close to 5am, the Israeli army began making preparations to evacuate the area as a group of soldiers began to load several trailers with what appeared to be metal piping, electrical wires and tubing that had been confiscated from the home of Marwan Qawasmeh.
Meanwhile, a soldier that was standing near the Qawasmeh home began to aim the laser of his weapon at the heads of various international volunteers and members of the press, for no apparent reason.
The front yard and door of the Qawasmeh family were completely blocked by large piles of rubble. Piles of wet cement covered the path to the back of the home. The entire bottom floor of the home was filled with cement and there were notices on the sealed door in Arabic and Hebrew which stated:
“This building is being shut under the command of the Military Commander. Due to the shutdown of this building, no new buildings are allowed to be built on this land. Due to the shutdown of part of this building, this place is declared unsafe and no one is permitted to enter.”
Almost the entire façade of the home had been destroyed and remains unusable with most of the rooms burnt and now completely visible from the outside. In the home, there were no doors or windows and all sinks and toilets had been smashed.
Other international volunteers arrived in the area of Wad Abu Ktela at around 2am where Israeli forces had congregated to detonate the family home of Hussam Qawasmeh. Clashes between Israeli military forces and local Palestinian youths had broken out nearby.
In the meantime, soldiers shot several tear gas canisters inside another Palestinian home in Abu Ktela and eleven people suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation and had to be taken to the Alia Hospital.
Solders hid throughout the neighborhood and around 50 additional solders surrounded the targeted home of the Hussam Qawasmeh family. Solders aimed snipers at internationals walking in the area and prevented locals from walking or driving down surrounding roads.
From a rooftop of a neighbouring house, Palestinians and internationals saw solders placing explosives inside the home and heard drilling noises for several hours. At the start of the morning prayer, at around 4:30am, the Israeli military forces blew up the home of the Qawasmeh family.
The home was completely destroyed and only dust and ruins remain. When Palestinians, media and internationals rushed down the street in an attempt to get closer to the home the Israeli military fired several stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets in their direction. Around 150 Palestinians gathered at the home around 5am in solidarity with the family. Family members were crying and visibly distraught.
Shortly after 5 am, all the homes had been demolished and the military presence had been lifted. According to Israeli officials, the homes of Hussam Qawasmeh, Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisha were destroyed as punishment for their alleged involvement in the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli settler teens in June. As the forces left, a group of soldiers exchanged congratulatory hugs and took a celebratory picture together. (end)
MORE ABOUT ETHNIC CLEANSING & COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has reprimanded the Palestinian unity agreement, saying Tel Aviv will not stop settlement constructions.
Press TV conducted an interview with Ralph Schoenman, the author of The Hidden History of Zionism and a political commentator in Berkeley, concerning Israel’s reaction towards the Palestinian unity deal.
Press TV: Israel keeps condemning the Palestinian unity deal. Will that, in fact, change anything on the ground?
Schoenman: Well, I think you have to bear in mind, you were quoting from Avigdor Lieberman, Foreign Minister. On February 14 2009 Avigdor Lieberman called for the expulsion of Palestinians from the Jewish state. He has been unabashed in making explicit with the basic content of Zionist occupation of Palestine in Catos, mainly removal of Palestinian people from their land and from history.
And this is a continuing process, but if I could just quote to you briefly from the chapter five of my book, The Seizure of the Land and The Hidden History of Zionism, this is Moshe Dayan, the former chief of staff and minister of defense chief, uninhibited in his summary of the nature of Zionistic occupation, when he addressed the Israel institute of technology, “We came here to a country populated by Arabs and we are building here an exclusive Hebrew Jewish state, instead of Arab villages, Jewish villages were established. You do not even know the names of these villages, and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only the books, the villages do not exist, Nahalal was established in place of Mahalul, Gevat in place of Jibta, Sarid in the place of Hanifas and Kafr Yehoushua in the place of Tel Shamam. There is not a single settlement that was not established in the place of a former Arab village”.
That’s the legacy, that’s the history, that’s the constant policy. That’s the dynamic and nature of the Zionist occupation of Palestine, the displacement of its people.
And when [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu declared in 2009 that his country will continue to expand its settlements, despite the calls by President Barack Obama or anyone else for this expansion to stop, that was the continuation of the constant policy articulated constantly by the Zionist spokesperson and enacted on the ground.
Press TV: Israel has threatened more settlements construction, specifically, in response to this Palestinian unity deal. Where does the international community, which has, as you mentioned, condemn Israeli settlement activity in the past, stand on this?
Schoenman: Well, I mean, as we have often we discussed on Press TV, the basic issue here, is that the Israeli state is an extension of US imperial power. It’s armed to the teeth by the United States. It’s been financed with over USD 100 billion in the past half century, and all the sub- imperial countries of NATO, and the country-selling regimes that, basically, populate the United Nations, whatever the rich service they give to self-determination, in practical terms, sustain the undertaking of the Israeli state and when the Israelis are condemned of the internal politics of the Palestinian movement, in relation to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority or what have you, all of that is just one more rhetorical flourish to maintain the policy of a constant removal, and the international community, as it’s called, does virtually nothing of any practical meaning.
After all, there was a formal condemnation of the Israeli settlements, and the US immediately vetoed that in the UN Security Council, this is the continuing policy that occurred in February of this year. What has happened on the part of other countries in the UN? Nothing, no condemnation of the UN veto, and no further action with respect to Israeli subjugation of the Palestinian population; he, on February 27, warns of Israelis’ plan to expel 600 Jerusalemites. It’s ethnic cleansing, that’s the permanent character of the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and their objective is very clear. They are going to impose a kind of Bantustan de facto continually removing Palestinian land, continually seizing their land, I’m sure there is no basis.
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