A video clip showing an Israeli army officer and a border policeman celebrating after blowing up a Palestinian building was widely shared on Arabic social media Tuesday, prompting the military to issue a mild rebuke of the servicemen’s behavior.
Israel has come under fire from the Palestinians and the international community over the demolition of 12 residential buildings in an area known as Wadi al-Hummus, which is part of the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher. The area falls just outside of Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and is part of the Palestinian Authority-controlled area of the West Bank.
Israel said the buildings were constructed illegally and built too close to the security barrier that was built to prevent entry of terrorists from the West Bank. The buildings were razed Monday in an operation that involved hundreds of members of the security forces.
In the video, the IDF officer, who is masked, and the border police officer are seen counting down to zero before they press a button to remotely set off explosives in a large building in the background. A series of detonations rip through the structure, which subsequently collapses.
The two officers then embrace and shake hands while posing together for a photograph with the ruins in the background.
بالضحكات والابتسامات العريضة يحتفل جنود الاحتلال بتدمير منزل فلسطيني جنوب مدينة #القدس المحتلة.
— رضوان الأخرس (@rdooan) July 22, 2019
The video was filmed by a Palestinian who was standing near the Israeli security forces as they demolished the building.
Radwan al-Akhras, a Palestinian writer for Qatar-based Al-Arab newspaper and who has over 234,000 followers on Twitter, shared the video, tweeting in Arabic “Look at the brutality. With the click of a button they destroy what took the Palestinians many years to build.”
Responding to a query on the matter, the IDF said that “the video was shot in the context of satisfaction with the success of the mission after many hours of hard work on the ground that ended with no exceptional events… At the same time, we emphasize that IDF soldiers and Israel Police officers are expected to act with restraint in operational situations. This point will be emphasized to officers by their commanders.”
On Monday, several nations and international bodies, including France, Jordan, Qatar, the EU and the UN, condemned Israel’s razing of the buildings.
In addition to the use of explosives, massive construction vehicles smashed through the roofs of several buildings and large excavators dug through the rubble to tear down the structures.
Palestinians have charged that the security concerns are a pretext to push them out of the Jerusalem area, and say it is nearly impossible to receive construction permits from Israeli authorities, resulting in a housing shortage in Arab neighborhoods in the city. Residents of Sur Baher fear another 100 buildings in the area in a similar situation could be at risk in the near future.
Residents say Wadi al-Hummus is the only direction Sur Baher is able to expand as the barrier and increased Israeli building in the capital have hemmed in the neighborhood from other directions.
Though Wadi al-Hummus is on the Israeli side of the security fence, the PA takes responsibility for the residents there.