The United Nations warned against imminent home demolitions targeting Palestinian families in Qalandiya refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank, which will see at least six Palestinian refugees at risk of being left homeless.
UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, said in a statement on Saturday that it was “gravely concerned” about the Israeli High Court of Justice’s recent rejection of the families’ appeal to save their homes.
“The families are in a state of perpetual apprehension as they wait for implementation of the punitive demolition which could occur at any undefined time,” the statement read.
— The Docterr (@docuterror) June 27, 2016
The families were notified on June 14 that they had five days to evacuate, after Israeli authorities stated their homes would be destroyed as punishment for stab attacks carried out by two young members of the families on December 23 at the Jaffa Gate of East Jerusalem’s Old City.
The two 21-year-old Palestinians, Issa Assaf and Anan Abu Habsa, were shot dead by Israeli police on the scene.
According to Israeli media, the justices in the hearing argued that Assaf and Abu Habsa’s killings did not constitute adequate punishment for their actions. The media reports did not mention whether the families were linked in any way to the attacks.
— OCHA oPt (Palestine) (@ochaopt) March 16, 2016
The court also reportedly rejected claims that Israel’s practice of home demolitions discriminates between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis who carry out attacks.
UNRWA reiterated that punitive demolitions are illegal under international law, a perspective communicated to Israeli authorities in April 2016 in the context of a court ruling regarding demolitions in Qalandiya refugee camp.
The Qalandiya refugee camp has been a focal point of violence since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October. Israeli soldiers have routinely carried out raids into the camp’s narrow streets, often leading to violent clashes.
Israeli rights group, B’Tselem, has condemned the practice as “court sanctioned revenge”, amounting to collective punishment.