The Abu Hmeid home in Amari refugee camp in Ramallah after it was blown up by the Israeli army. (WAFA Images / Huthayfa Srour)
RAMALLAH, Saturday, December 15, 2018 (WAFA) – In a step seen as giving in to Israeli settlers and the right wing in Israel calling for revenge measures against the Palestinians following the killing of two Israeli soldiers near Ramallah on Thursday, the Israeli army raided early Saturday the city of Ramallah and headed toward Amari refugee camp in the south of the city where hours later the army blew up a building in the camp.
Hundreds of soldiers raided Ramallah after midnight and surrounded Amari refugee camp, particularly a building owned by the Abu Hmeid family in the center of the overcrowded camp whose son, Islam, the army claims had killed an Israeli soldier during a raid of the camp in June.
After surrounding the camp, the soldiers moved to the four-story building where several dozen Palestinian activists and supporters had kept an around-the-clock vigil to block the demolition of the building after an Israeli court gave the army the green light to demolish the building as a collective punishment against the entire family for the act of Islam.
The soldiers removed the activists by force and evacuated all neighboring homes on a cold night, estimated at 400 women, children and men of all ages, including a pregnant woman who was in labor, and kept them in an open football field nearby.
The Red Crescent was able to evacuate the pregnant woman to a hospital in Ramallah and the army allowed the medics to bring covers, water and food to the people held in the field before allowing the ambulance to evacuate most of the women and children to the nearby Red Crescent building and kept around 150 people held up in the football field, according to witnesses and those who were detained in the field.
Meanwhile, the army spent around six hours rigging the house with explosives before eventually blowing it up at around 7 in the morning local time. Nevertheless, the explosion did not destroy the entire building, rather the inner walls.
However, the army returned to the house and rigged it again to make sure it is totally destroyed. At around 9:20 local time, another explosion destroyed what remained of the building.
During the raid and operation, Palestinians blocked roads and pelted the soldiers with stones, who responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets at them and the reports covering the incursion causing dozens of injuries, according to the Red Crescent. One cameraman was hit by a teargas canister in the face and was evacuated to hospital.
The soldiers have also blocked traffic on the main road between Ramallah and Jerusalem and prevented vehicles from moving on that road as they remain in the area until the filing of this report.
The Ministry of Education has suspended schools in the city for the day in light of the serious developments.
The army had previously demolished the Abu Hmeid house twice, in 1994 and 2003. Five of the family members, not including Islam, are serving time in prison for resisting the Israeli occupation, four sentenced to multiple life terms, and another son was killed during a military operation against the Israeli occupation forces.