A drab two-story house in this town could become the first casualty of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to revive the controversial practice of demolishing the homes of Palestinian militants, a form of collective punishment.
The house was formerly occupied by Ziyad Awad, a Hamas operative whom Israel has arrested over the Apr. 14 killing of an Israeli police officer. On Tuesday, the Israeli army gave notice to relatives of Mr. Awad that it planned to ''confiscate and destroy'' the building where the murder suspect lived with his wife and five children. The targeted structure also houses, in a separate apartment, Awad's brother, Mohammed, and his wife and their six children as well as the brothers' mother.
Under Israeli law, the family has the right to contest the demolition notice. HaMoked, an Israeli human rights group representing the Awads, has filed an appeal to the army. If, as expected, this is unsuccessful, the family has 48 hours to petition Israel's Supreme Court. Dalia Kerstein, executive director of HaMoked, says the court has never completely cancelled a demolition. In some cases it has ruled that only part of the targeted house can be destroyed or that the house be sealed so that it cannot be inhabited, she says.
Mr. Netanyahu frames the impending demolition as an expansion of an antiterrorism drive in the wake of the high-profile kidnappings of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank earlier this month. Israel says Hamas, a militant group that recently joined a unity Palestinian government, is behind the kidnapping.