The Israel Defense Force’s Civil Administration yesterday demolished 22 Palestinian buildings in the Hebron area. The official reason given was “standard enforcement of building rules,” but the operation is likely part of the IDF’s ongoing retaliation campaign in Hebron, which has been under curfew for four days now.
Eighteen of the demolished buildings are in the southeastern part of the city, near the road intersection where three IDF soldiers were killed in a Hamas shooting last week.
Four other buildings and sheds were demolished in lot 26 near Givat Harsina, where Kach activist Netanel Ozeri was killed three weeks ago, also by Hamas.
Bulldozers, assisted by IDF units in Hebron, ordered the owners of structures for which demolition orders had been previously issued to evacuate. In some cases, this referred to sheds that Palestinian farmers have built on their farms.
Bulldozers and security forces arrived at lot 26 yesterday afternoon and demolished two structures, which were extensions to existing buildings that belong to the Sultan family, which owns several dozen dunams in an area that is part of the master plan of Kiryat Arba.
Another house razed was in an area where the settlers intend to build a neighborhood expanding Givat Harsina, east of the road bypassing Hebron.
The four homes and ranch built by Israeli settler Netanel Ozeri, in which he was killed, are clearly visible a few hundred meters away from the homes of the Sultan family. Ozeri’s homes were built in the last year in complete violation of the orders of the Civil Administration, which allowed Ozeri to enter the lot only to let his herd graze.
Ozeri’s houses were also built in contempt of two High Court decisions, which prohibited Kiryat Arba (which has municipal jurisdiction), the Civil Administration and the IDF, to allow the buildings, which were built in steps, to remain intact. Ozeri started by building cowsheds, and later turned them into permanent structures. Since his murder, settlers have been residing in the four buildings, without any IDF intervention.
The IDF is soon to explain to the High Court of Justice why it had allowed Ozeri and other settlers to stay on the premises.
In addition to the demolitions near Givat Harsina, the Civil Administration destroyed 18 buildings, some of them vacant, and sheds in Jabal Juhar neighborhood and in an area known as H-2, which is controlled by the IDF, in the east of Hebron by the r
Bulldozer operations took place in an area that has been under curfew during most of the intifada and that has been abandoned by most of its inhabitants.
The Palestinian Authority slammed the demolitions Sunday, calling them “another war crime perpetrated by Sharon’s government” which violated agreements signed by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinian families hurriedly dragged refrigerators and sofas out of the houses before Israeli bulldozers, guarded by soldiers, began knocking down the walls. The families said they had received notices months ago that the houses would be demolished, but had not known when the work would begin.
Israel has been tearing down dozens of Palestinian homes in recent months. They include homes built without permits as well as houses belonging to
militants involved in violence against Israel. Hebron resident Yakub Sultan was building one of the houses for his son, who is to be married soon. “The Israeli government and Ariel Sharon are destroying all our dreams by demolishing houses,” Sultan said as the bulldozers knocked down concrete walls. Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said the demolitions werepart of Sharon’s “policy of expanding settlements and putting obstacles in the way of future peace.”