Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank village of Kobar before dawn on Monday and destroyed the family home of Palestinian prisoner Qassam al-Barghouti, sparking widespread clashes in the village between armed Israeli soldiers and local youth.
Al-Barghouti is accused of being involved in an attack last August that killed Israeli teenager Rina Shnerb and injured her father and brother while they were hiking near the illegal Dolev settlement in the West Bank, northwest of Jerusalem.
According to local media reports, dozens of Israeli forces raided the village in the early hours of Monday and cordoned off the area around Barghouti’s home before bulldozing the house to the ground.
Forces also reportedly fired tear gas and other crowd dispersal measures on local youth who had gathered to attempt to stop the demolition by throwing stones and burning tires near the scene.
Videos posted on social media show local youth hurling Molotov cocktails at the military convoy as they were leaving the village after completing the demolition.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that four Palestinians were injured during the clashes, including one person in moderate condition who was hit by a tear gas grenade.
Photos and videos of the demolition show Israeli forces demolishing the top floor of a two-story building, leaving the bottom floor, allegedly belonging to al-Barghouti’s sister, relatively unscathed.
The homes of the two other Palestinians involved in the attack with al-Barghouti were also destroyed in March and April of this year.
The al-Barghouti family was first notified of the intention to destroy their home on February 11. They subsequently appealed the demolition order, but were denied by the Israeli High Court, paving the way for Monday’s demolition.
Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett praised the demolition of al-Barghouti’s home as an “important tool in deterring future terror attacks,” the Times of Israel reported.
While Israel has applauded its policy of punitive home demolitions as serving as a deterrent for attacks on Israelis, the Israeli military has itself said in previous reports that the practice is ineffective, and in reality bolsters negative sentiments towards the Israeli government.
Rights groups have condemned the policy as constituting collective punishment, a violation of international law under the Geneva Convention.
Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has said the following of the practice:
“The policy of punitive house demolition is, by definition, meant to harm people who have done nothing wrong and are suspected of no wrongdoing, but are related to Palestinians who attacked or attempted to attack Israeli civilians or security forces.
Even if this deterrent effect were achieved, it would not render the policy moral or legal. By harming innocents to achieve a goal that has nothing to do with them, the authorities treat these persons as a means rather than as independent human beings with rights. Such a policy is inherently immoral and unlawful.”