Human Rights Watch / Jerusalem – The Israeli government should reject plans to resume the demolition or confiscation of the homes of alleged terrorists, Human Rights Watch said today. These measures would violate international legal prohibitions against collective punishment, as they affect the owners or inhabitants of the homes who have no involvement in terrorism.
The call follows an order issued on August 6, 2008, by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to demolish the home of Alaa Abu Dheim, a 26-year-old Palestinian who killed eight people during a gun attack on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem in March. The house concerned does not belong to Abu Dheim but is occupied and owned by his relatives. Barak's order marks the resumption of demolitions of homes after a three-year lull and comes in the wake of two separate attacks in which Palestinian men used bulldozers to attack people in July on the streets of Jerusalem.
"The assault on Mercaz Harav seminary and the more recent bulldozer attacks were appalling, but Israel shouldn't respond by trampling on basic rights," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The house demolition measures would violate international law because they punish people who are not even accused, let alone convicted, of a crime."