One Palestinian Family’s Demolition, Revenge on the Whole Neighborhood

The third-floor apartment where Abu Shahin lived with his wife and two daughters was destroyed. Nine other apartments were damaged, some seriously.

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Palestinians look at a house that was demolished by the Israeli army, in the Qalandia refugee camp on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Two Palestinians were killed and three wounded in clashes with Israeli troops early Monday in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Jerusalem area, a Palestinian health official said. The Israeli military said its troops entered Qalandia to demolish the home of a Palestinian who it says shot and killed an Israeli motorist in the West Bank this summer after he stopped to give the Palestinian directions to a nearby spring.
Palestinians look at a house demolished by the IDF in Qalandiyah refugee camp, November 16, 2015.Credit: AP

What stood out at the funeral Monday for the two latest victims of the Israel Defense Forces was the quiet: In contrast to other, similar funerals in the West Bank’s Qalandiyah refugee camp, no masked gunmen appeared among the mourners to fire deafening volleys into the air.

Only a single volley was fired in honor of Laith Shu’any (Manasra) and Ahmad Abu al-Aish. After a resident shot and killed another young man in a brawl a few days earlier, the camp’s popular committee prohibited the carrying or firing of guns at funerals and weddings.

The funeral procession set out from Qalandiyah’s main mosque about seven hours after one of the biggest Israeli army raids that residents can remember. A summary of the night’s events could be read on their gray, weary, sorrowful faces: two more people killed, two more bereaved families; three more people wounded by gunfire, the traumatic temporary evacuation of all residents of one neighborhood and a house demolition that badly damaged nearby homes.

Residents said a large force entered the camp from all sides sometime after midnight. As usual, young men confronted the troops, throwing stones and firebombs at them.

“It’s our right to throw stones,” said a Fatah member. “The soldiers aren’t our guests, and we must always show them we resist, that we hate them and the occupation.”

But he said the clashes were milder than usual, as a result of the large number of soldiers and the use of tear gas, stun grenades, floodlights and gunfire. Soldiers climbed on the roofs of many houses, especially near the family home of Mohammed Abu Shahin, who is suspected of murdering Danny Gonen in June.

Shu’any, 20, went on the roof of his home with his uncle Wissam, who vehemently denies that his nephew was armed. Shu’any was shot in the shoulder by an IDF sniper, and he fell.

His family tried to rush him to the hospital. “We passed through four soldiers’ positions; we were stopped at each one but allowed to continue when we pointed at Laith,” Wissam said.

But at Kafr Aqab Street, north of the camp, soldiers made the family remove Shu’any from the car, searched him and ordered his three escorts to strip and present their identity cards. None of the soldiers spoke Arabic.

According to Wissam, a soldier who identified himself as a physician began to examine Shu’any but stopped when an officer commanded him to do so. Wissam said they were detained for half an hour later before being allowed to drive to where a Palestinian ambulance waited for them. But by then, Shu’any had died.

Abu al-Aish was killed about 30 meters from his house. He was hit by several bullets, including one to the head. Some Qalandiyah residents said they assume he was armed. But no soldiers were wounded.

At about 3 A.M., soldiers used loudspeakers to order all residents of the Al-Jabal neighborhood to leave their homes and go to the soccer field. Soldiers knocked on doors and even entered houses to make sure nobody remained inside. One person estimated that between 150 and 200 people went to the soccer field — men and women of all ages, bleary-eyed children, mothers with babies.

The soldiers also left the immediate area of the Abu Shahin home, and around 15 minutes later there was an explosion. The third-floor apartment where Abu Shahin lived with his wife and two daughters was destroyed. Nine other apartments were damaged, some seriously.

Ali Sh’ham’s apartment was brand-new; he had put his life’s savings in it. Now it had shattered windows, cracked supporting walls, broken doors. “You didn’t only take revenge on the Abu Shahin family; you took revenge on everyone who lives near them,” he said, stony-faced.

In a statement, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said soldiers stopped a car carrying a Palestinian wounded in exchanges of fire in the camp, gave him first aid and allowed the vehicle to continue. The incident is still under investigation.

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