Military 'approves demolition of Awarta convicts homes'

12:00 May 6 2012 Awarta

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- The heads of Israel's military on Sunday decided to demolish the homes of two Palestinians convicted of murdering an Israeli family last year, Israeli media said.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and army chief Benny Gantz agreed to destroy the West Bank homes of Hakim and Ajmad Awad, Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported.

The teenagers were sentenced to multiple life sentences for the killing of five relatives in an Israeli settlement in March 2011.

The move -- recommended by Israel's internal security service the Shin Bet -- will be subject to legal scrutiny in coming weeks by the Israeli parliamentary legal advisers, the report said.

Lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel Tamar Feldman told Ma'an: "Demolishing the houses of families of convicted criminals, despicable as their crimes may be, is collective punishment, which is absolutely banned under international law."

The army ceased home demolitions as a punitive measure in 2005 after an internal committee ruled there was no evidence the practice was effective as a deterrent, she said.

The proposed demolition of the Awad family homes is "both illegal and immoral, and has been proven to be ineffective," Feldman noted.

Hakim and Amjad -- from Awarta village in the northern West Bank -- were found guilty of the stabbing attack that killed Ehud and Ruthie Fogel and their children, three-month-old Hadas, four-year-old Elad and Yoav, 11 in nearby Itamar settlement.

The Jerusalem Post said the Shin Bet recommended demolishing their families' homes to deter further attacks, and to punish relatives who it alleged aided the convicts during investigations.
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