Update: Hours after the publishing of the article below, which appealed to the world to prevent the demolishing of Yazan Mghames’s house, the Israeli army demolished the prisoner’s family home overnight.
Dozens of Palestinian activists, lawyers, and students, representing various Palestinian organizations held a press conference on Wednesday in front of the family home of prisoner Yazan Mghames, which is set to be demolished at any time by the Israeli military occupation.
“We just started the campaign today to highlight Israeli unjust practices of individual and collective punishment against Palestinian prisoners, starting from subjecting the prisoners themselves to extreme torture to collectively punishing their families by ordering the demolition of their homes,” the human rights defenders said in a letter, a copy of which was sent to The Palestine Chronicle.
The house of Mghames, a student activist who is currently in prison, and that of Walid Hanatsheh, are set to be demolished by the Israeli military. On January 10, the Israeli High Court issued an order that will allow the military to demolish the two prisoners’ homes at any time after March 1.
“In grave violation of International Law, including International Humanitarian Law .. the Israeli regime has engaged in collective punishment against Palestinians since the beginning of the military occupation in 1967,” the letter read in part.
“Israel has systematically engaged in extra-judicial executions or arrests of Palestinians it accuses of undertaking legitimate resistance actions against the occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, subjecting many to lengthy imprisonment without evidence or fair trials.”
— Samidoun (@SamidounPP) January 19, 2020
“It then subjects their family members to additional punishment by association by demolishing their family homes. This policy has only intensified since 2015; particularly in the city of Jerusalem.”
The letter said that home demolishing is only “one of many forms of collective punishment which the Israeli regime deploys against the Palestinian people for their resistance.”
“Other forms of collective punishment include revocation of permanent residency status of family members of political prisoners in Jerusalem, forcible transfer from their homes, refusal and revocation of close and distant relatives’ Israeli work permits, prohibition of new construction on the site of demolished homes, and confiscation of the properties themselves.”
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— Ramzy Baroud (@RamzyBaroud) March 4, 2020
In a letter written by Malak Hanatsheh, daughter of one of the two Palestinian prisoners, the 12-year-old wrote,
“[My home] is going to be nothing but dust in less than 10 days. It’s going to be destroyed by the Occupation; people that have no sense of fairness, no feelings, people who just destroy families, kill people, arrest people just because they are defending their country, or their house.
“It’s hard. It was hard to move and find a house in just 3 days. It’s hard to be forcibly moved and know you will never be able to visit or see your house again,” she wrote.
In their letter, the group called on activists around the world to take concrete steps to “raise awareness in both local and international media of Israel’s use of home demolitions as a form of collective punishment and forcible transfer, and to highlight this as a war crime,” which they hope would “help prioritize the issue on the UN’s agenda.”
They also called for more pressure on “the International Criminal Court (ICC) to add collective punishment to its list of prosecutable crimes.”
“In light of the above, it is thus imperative to assist victims in submitting their cases of collective punishment, particularly home demolitions, to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC for consideration as a violation under the Rome Statute, and the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing for special investigation, as well as other international bodies that are dedicated to facilitating the participation of victims.”
(The Palestine Chronicle)