Israeli Soldiers Leave Palestinian's Home in Shambles After Seizing It as an Outpost

Broken sinks, ripped upholstery and human refuse testament of soldiers' stay in Sinjil home of expat Ahmad Alwan, who learned of massive damage after he was called by a neighbor. The IDF tries officer in charge, and offers to compensate Alwan.

Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger
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Ahmad Alwan surveying the damage to his home in Siljin, the West Bank, after Israeli soldiers used it as a temporary outpost. A middle-aged man stands in a bedroom with a damaged wooden dresser and wardrobe. There are trash and family possessions on the floor, crude drawings on walls and doors and additional damage can be seen through the doorway.
Ahmad Alwan surveying the damage to his home in Siljin, the West Bank, after Israeli soldiers used it as a temporary outpost, in August 2016.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

The Israeli army has promised to compensate a Palestinian family after soldiers who commandeered their home as a temporary outpost left behind massive damage.

The home, in the West Bank town of Sinjil, belongs to Ahmad Alwan, who lives in the United States with his family. Neighbors say soldiers broke into the house in April and stayed there for a few weeks. When they left, all of the windows had been shattered, doors and furniture had been smashed, mattresses ripped up, piles of garbage were scattered throughout the house and household objects had evidently been used as toilets. The destruction was clearly deliberate.

The unit commander, a second lieutenant, was tried and fined an undisclosed sum.

Alwan was born in Sinjil before the Six-Day War. In the 1970s, while in his 20s, he moved to Chicago. He and his Palestinian wife, who have four children, visit their village every year.

Alwan did not know that the house was used by soldiers until neighbors in Siljin told him about it.

Zacharia Sadeh, a field worker for Rabbis for Human Rights, says that every year the Israeli military uses dozens of unoccupied Palestinian homes as temporary outposts.

Soldiers are forbidden to cause damage to these homes, and in the Alwans’ home there was a lot of damage. In addition to that described above, upholstery was ripped up and the bathrooms were smashed, as was every sink in the house.

“There is no explanation for what happened here. One cannot understand the mindset that led people to cause such destruction,” Alwan told Haaretz. He also found a torn Koran on the floor, he says.

While the army has promised compensation, it hasn’t named a sum, Alwan says. “I have no idea how it will cost to fix it all. And that is just the quantifiable, physical damage. I will sue the army for that. But the emotional damage is more important, and no price can be put on that.”

The IDF Spokesman’s Office confirmed that Alwan’s house had been used, and abused, by soldiers whose actions were “contrary to directives regarding property.”

Continuing, the spokesman said: “After the event, the Civil Administration contacted Palestinian Authority representatives and offered compensation, but unfortunately, the owners of the house and representatives of the PA have not shown willingness. We stress that the offer still stands.”

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