IDF Demolishes Family Home of Palestinian Suspected in Cop Killing

Ziad Awad, previously released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, is suspected of murdering a senior Israeli police officer on Passover eve.

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Residents of the village of Idna inspecting Ziad Awad’s home after it was demolished by the IDF. July 2, 2014.
Residents of the village of Idna inspecting Ziad Awad’s home after it was demolished by the IDF. July 2, 2014.Credit: AP

Israeli troops yesterday destroyed the family home of a Hamas operative suspected of murdering a senior police officer on Passover eve. The High Court of Justice earlier this week denied a petition against the demolition.

The soldiers clashed with some 250 Palestinians who gathered in the West Bank village of Idna early yesterday morning to protest the demolition. The army said the troops attempted to disperse the protest with rubber bullets and tear gas and that the protesters were throwing firebombs and stones.

Ziad Awad, 42, had been sentenced to life for the murder of suspected Palestinian collaborators. He was released as part of the prisoner exchange deal to free Gilad Shalit in 2011. Last week the Military Advocate General indicted Awad for the murder of Baruch Mizrahi, a married father of five, near Hebron in April.

Mohammed Awad, the defendant’s brother, and his 18-year-old son were indicted last week for helping Ziad flee the crime scene.

The house that was demolished was owned by Mohammed Awad and was home to both men’s families, 13 people in all.

Mohammed Awad told Haaretz that the explosion that destroyed his brother’s apartment caused heavy damage to the rest of the structure, such that his family can no longer live there. “All the walls are cracked, there’s no water and no electricity,” he said. “My wife and I and our five children have been left without a home.”

He said the rooms were covered with dust and debris and cracks had formed in the storeroom under the destroyed apartment.

Eyewitnesses in Idna said hundreds of Israeli troops spread out in the village at 3 A.M., while 100 of them surrounded the house, which Mohammed Awad had paid for with his savings and wages as a carpenter. The soldiers placed explosives in Ziad Awad’s apartment and blew it up at 7:30 A.M., they said.

Palestinian news agencies said that when the troops deployed throughout the village, the muezzin called the villagers on loudspeakers from the mosques to come out and protest the demolition.

In recent years the defense establishment had stopped destroying terrorists’ houses as a punitive step, after a military panel deemed that it did more harm than good. The authorities decided to destroy homes as a deterrent only in extreme cases. The last demolition took place in April 2009, when the IDF destroyed the house of Hussam Duwayit of Zur Baher, after he drove a bulldozer into several cars in downtown Jerusalem, killing three people.

Awad’s family and human rights groups petitioned the High Court of Justice against the demolition, saying it constituted collective punishment, which is forbidden by international law. The petitioners also said the demolition was disproportionate and ineffective.

The state argued that the act would contribute significantly to deter other terrorists, and Justices Miriam Naor, Yoram Danziger and Uri Shoham denied the petition. Naor said the arguments in the petition had been denied before and that the court tends not to interfere with the security services’ evaluation of the effectiveness of demolition as a deterrent.

A civil engineer sent on Sunday by Hamoked — the Center for the Defense of the Individual, warned that blowing up one apartment in the house could damage the rest of it. In his opinion, which was submitted to the High Court, construction work that would take about a week was required to prevent damage that could undermine the rest of the structure.

Despite this, the IDF decided to blow up the house about 12 hours after the petition was denied.

Last week, following Hamoked’s intervention, the IDF retracted Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon’s order to destroy the entire house.

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