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Israeli forces demolish family home of Hussam Dwayat and kill 20 year old Palestinian

7 April 2009

The Israeli army shot dead a young Palestinian in the Sur Bahir village centre in East Jerusalem, while the house of the family of Hussam Dwayat was being demolished in a nearby neighbourhood.

The demolition has been carried out as a form of collective punishment to the family of Hussam Dwayat, who killed 3 people in an alleged buldozer attack on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road in July 2008. Although Hussam has been shot dead at the scene of the accident, the occupation forces proceeded onto demolishing the house of his family, despite of the 2005 military commission ruling out this controversial policy as ineffective in deterring future attacks.

According to the residents, the army arrived at 6am and proceeded onto forcing 20 family members out of the house. There was a heavy police and army presence, including tear-gas armed riot police, in the adjacent area and several access roads have been blocked.

ISM activists arrived at the scene shortly before 9am, just before the actual demolition started. A small crowd of neighbours and relatives gathered to watch the demolition of the house which took many years to build and has only been completed 7 years ago. The family members, all of whom have lost their jobs after the Jaffa Road accident, have received the demolition order two weeks before it has been carried out. They remained unclear about the future ownership of the land the house was standing on.

The whole demolition took several hours and top two floors have been completely destroyed, while the downstairs apartment has been left intact. As the army was leaving the scene, the owners raised a palestinian flag on the top of the remains of the house.

While the demolition was still underway, a young Palestinian was shot dead in his car by the army in a separate incident in the village centre, about 10 minutes walking from the demolition scene. While the army is justifying the shooting by claiming that the man was attempting to kill or injure the soldiers, eye-witnesses have reported that there was no intention in his acting and believed the accident was a result of the high presence of army and police in the area in connection with the morning house demolition.

When the ISM activists arrived at the scene, approximately 30 minutes after the killing, the body of the shot man was still lying next to his car, which had about 15 bullet holes in the windscreen. When the ambulance finally arrived, another 30 minutes later, a big crowd of local residents that gathered meanwhile started shouting pro-Palestinian slogans and shortly after clashes errupted between the police who started shooting tear-gas, aiming directly into the crowd in many cases. The clashes continued for about another hour, and ended when the police and army finally withdrew from the area.