Hundreds of residents from block “O” in the Kashta neighborhood of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, two neighborhoods away from the Philadelphi route, are packing up their belongings and looking for an alternative place to live. The residents fear their houses will be destroyed after Sunday’s appeal to the Supreme Court against IDF demolishing houses in Gaza was rejected.
Chief of Staff Moshe (Bugi) Yaalon says that the IDF will likely be demolishing hundreds of houses in Rafah, following the Supreme Court's decision to allow the measure. Yaalon added that the army has already marked structures to be torn down.
The High Court of Justice on Sunday rejected a petition filed by residents of the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza who asked the court to forbid the IDF from razing Palestinian homes in the Strip. The court ruled that the method is acceptable because of security needs.
The court accepted the IDF’s commitment that no homes would be razed unless either an operational need arises, soldiers find themselves in a life-threatening situation, or in a case where a decision not to raze a house would compromise the success of an operation.
In addition, the justices ruled that in any case in which no immediate operational need exists, the IDF would have to make public its intent to raze the house so as to give the residents an opportunity to appeal the decision.
During the weekend, Supreme Court Justice, Yehoshua Matza, ordered a temporary ban on the IDF from demolishing Palestinian houses in the Gaza Strip. The houses in question were not used by Palestinian snipers against Israelis, but were houses the IDF wants removed for, among other reasons, widening the Philadelphi route where five soldiers were killed on Wednesday.
The temporary order was given following a petition filed by Rafah residents who feared a wide IDF reprisal after Wednesdays attack. Palestinians claim that about 80 buildings, homes to hundreds of people, were demolished during IDF operations in Gaza over the weekend.
The IDF sharply rejected the Palestinians allegations and said they had only demolished up to 40 buildings. The army demolishes houses used by Palestinians as sniper nests. There have been dozens of incidents of IDF soldiers coming under fire from such houses.
“All the houses destroyed so far were destroyed during the fighting and were demolished to protect the teams searching for soldier’s remains”, a senior IDF source told Maariv.
IDF soldiers spent the weekend looking for their comrades’ body parts snatched by Palestinians when hurled from their burning APC in Wednesdays attack.