Ya’bad, Occupied West Bank, Palestine – In the first two days of June 2022, Israeli forces killed four Palestinians and blew up a two-story home in the northern parts of the Occupied West Bank. The massive Israeli military operations took place in the town of Ya’bad in the Jenin district, drawing resistance and violent confrontations. In an act of collective punishment, a war crime by 1949 Geneva Conventions’ standards, Israeli forces demolished the home of Diaa Hamarsheh. Hamarsheh was a lone wolf attacker who killed five Israeli settlers in Bnei Brak Tel Aviv in March 2022.
When Israeli forces launched the large-scale raid on June 1, 2022, 11 family members were living in the Hamarsheh home and all were said to have had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the attack on the Israeli settlers.
During the initial raid into Ya’bad, Israeli forces shot and killed Bilal Awad Qabaha, 24, and shot six others with live bullets. Ya’bad’s mayor, Amjad Atatreh, told Unicorn Riot that Israeli forces “were randomly shooting at everyone walking in the street” and also shooting at an “ambulance trying to rescue the injured.” Violent confrontations occurred when the community defended the town.
“Yesterday they [Israeli forces] were shooting at the ambulance trying to rescue the injured, they [Israeli forces] were randomly shooting at everyone walking in the street.”
Amjad Atatreh, Mayor of Ya’bad
After pulling out of the town, about 30 Israeli military vehicles raided Ya’bad in the middle of the night, storming the home of Diaa Hamarsheh. Israeli forces destroyed the walls and planted explosives throughout the home. They blew up the building at dawn.
On April 5, the Israeli Army had notified Hamarsheh’s family that they intended to demolish the home and demanded they empty their house in preparation. All 11 family members are now left homeless.
Israeli forces deliberately demolish the homes of resistance fighters and political prisoners as part of a policy of “collective punishment” of their families, a policy intended to stop commando operations and militant resistance to Israeli’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands.
Nearly 60,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967 according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Land clearing military demolitions account for 66% of the demolitions while 1% of all defined demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israel are of the punitive sort.
In the aftermath of the demolition, the community of Ya’bad cleaned up the mess left behind by the Israeli-orchestrated explosion. Later in the day, not long after the home demolition, thousands participated in the funeral for Awad Qabaha, chanting slogans denouncing the crimes of the Israeli occupation while marching through the city.
A mass funeral was held in Ya’bad, which started in front of the Qabaha’s family house where his mother took a farewell look at the body of her son. Mourners then carried him on their shoulders and roamed the streets of the town. They prayed for him in the town’s mosque and buried him in the northern cemetery of Ya’bad.
Several Palestinian political factions converged together during the funeral, calling for unity against “the aggression of the Israeli occupation and its continuing crimes against the Palestinian people.”