Middle East Monitor / October 16, 2020
Israeli security forces are planning to seal the bedroom of a Palestinian man who is suspected of killing a solider after a court refused permission to demolish the family home, local media outlets have reported.
The bizarre plan comes after a second attempt by the security forces to get permission to demolish Nazmi Abu Bakr’s family home was denied by the Israeli High Court of Justice.
The court, which is Israel’s most senior, said a demolition would not be appropriate because Abu Bakr’s wife and eight children were not involved in the alleged crime. Instead, the security forces plan to fill Abu Bakr’s room with concrete, sealing it off but leaving the rest of the house intact.
Abu Bakr, 49, is accused of murder after he allegedly dropped a brick onto the head of an Israeli soldier who later died. The incident took place on 12 May, during an early morning Israeli raid on the West Bank town of Ya’bad.
According to the indictment, Abu Bakr was on the top floor of a three-story building where he lives with extended family when Israeli forces arrived. After hearing raised voices, he went onto the roof, where he could see Israeli soldiers making arrests in the streets below, Haaretz reported.
Abu Bakr is accused of then dropping a brick onto one of the soldiers below, hitting Amit Ben Ygal. He was arrested and charged in early June with the “deliberate murder” of the Israeli staff sergeant.
Prosecutors have claimed in court that Abu Bakr has confessed to deliberately killing the Israeli soldier, but the defendant and his lawyers maintain that he did no such thing. Transcripts of his interrogation, which were broadcast by Israeli public station Kan in June, quote Abu Bakr as saying that he “only meant to inflict wounds”. The 49-year-old added that he had “made a mistake”; “It was foolish of me,” he said, emphasising that he “didn’t mean” to kill the soldier.
Israel frequently demolishes the homes of Palestinians who are accused of harming, or even attempting to harm, Israeli civilians or security personnel, despite widespread condemnation from the international community. The practice was halted temporarily in 2005 after a military review found that the policy was ineffective in terms of deterring attacks, but it was resumed in 2014.
The occupation state continues to be condemned by senior human rights officials who regard the practice as an inappropriate penalty because it amounts to collective punishment. In July, UN special rapporteur for the Palestinian territories Michael Lynk described the practice as “an affront to justice and the rule of law” which serves only to nurture “an atmosphere of hate and vengeance.”