JERUSALEM – In the midst of a crowded Palestinian neighborhood, on the edge of Jerusalem beyond the separation wall, Israeli forces blew up a house on Wednesday belonging to the family of a Palestinian who killed two Israelis in a vehicular attack a year ago.
The Israeli police then released a video showing how they did it.
In the video, police in riot gear march into the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem, guns drawn, alongside soldiers from the Engineering Corps, who plant dynamite into the walls of the home. Senior officers in a crowded control room are shown detonating the explosion.For some, the video will underline Israel’s strong response against terror.For others, it will be further proof of Israel’s drastic military measures that seek to control and punish the Palestinian population.
The video highlights a punitive practice long debated in Israel. Senior military leaders are divided over whether home demolitions stop or incite deadly attacks by Palestinians. Palestinians call the practice collective punishment and a human rights violation. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently vowed to order immediate home demolitions in order to end two months of on-going violence and unrest.
According to the Israeli police, a large force of police officers and Border Police were deployed to the refugee camp to help the military maintaining order and to prevent rioting in the camp during the demolition.
“The forces were instructed to show zero tolerance for any attempt to harm security forces or disrupt the public order," the police said in a statement. "The demolition went ahead as planned without any unusual incidents." The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that clashes did break out.
The home belonged to a father of five, Ibrahim al-Akri. In November 2014, he rammed his minivan into a group of Border Police officers at a light railway train station in Jerusalem, killing one officer and a civilian. Al-Akri was shot and killed at the scene.
His family told Israeli news media at the time that he was frustrated by Israel’s treatment of a contested Jerusalem holy site, which Muslims refer to as the Noble Sanctuary and Jews as the Temple Mount.
Israel demolished the homes of people related to Palestinian attackers during the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, in the early 2000s. The demolitions were halted, however, 10 years ago because some in the military deemed them an ineffective deterrent against Palestinian militancy. Others have argued that it was effective and the current government has opted to revive the practice.