Israel demolishes home of alleged Palestinian attacker, fueling West Bank tensions

Isabel DeBre

AP  /  August 8, 2023

RAMALLAH, West Bank – Israeli security forces on Tuesday demolished the West Bank home of a Palestinian man accused of carrying out a deadly shooting attack earlier this year, the military said, the latest incursion to fuel tensions in the occupied territory.

Israel’s decades-old tactic of leveling the family homes of alleged Palestinian assailants has drawn intense criticism from human rights groups, which call it collective punishment — prohibited under international law.

Opponents of the policy also raise questions about its efficacy, arguing that leveling the residences of often uninvolved parents, spouses and children of alleged assailants and leaving them homeless only fuels an unrelenting cycle of hatred and bloodshed.

Israel defends such home demolitions as a deterrent meant to prevent future attacks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government, which has taken a hard line against the Palestinians, has vowed to ramp up home demolitions of Palestinian attackers as violence spirals in the West Bank.

The Israeli military said its forces entered the Askar refugee camp in the northern West Bank city of Nablus early Tuesday and demolished the apartment of 49-year-old Abdul Fattah Kharushah, an alleged member of the Hamas militant group who was suspected of shooting and killing two Israeli brothers in the town of Hawara earlier this year.

The highway shooting on Feb. 26 that killed the two men — brothers from the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha — had followed a deadly Israeli military raid in Nablus and unleashed the worst outburst of settler violence in decades. Israeli settlers went on a violent rampage in the town of Hawara after the shooting, burning dozens of Palestinian cars and shops and leaving one man dead.

Kharushah was later killed during an Israeli military raid on the Jenin refugee camp in March.

Young Palestinians burned tires and hurled stones and explosive devices at Israeli forces who stormed into the Askar refugee camp to demolish Kharushah’s home, on the third floor of an apartment building, on Tuesday. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that two Palestinians were wounded by bullet shrapnel and others wounded by rubber bullets as Israeli soldiers tried to disperse the crowds. The Israeli military said it was also confronted with Palestinian gunfire in the camp.

The incursion comes at a fraught time in the West Bank, as Israeli-Palestinian fighting surges to levels unseen in nearly two decades. Earlier this week, Israeli troops killed three alleged Palestinian militants after a Palestinian gunman shot and killed an Israeli security guard in central Tel Aviv.

More than 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire this year in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Israel says most killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting army raids and innocent bystanders have also been killed.

At least 26 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis so far this year.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.


Israel demolishes refugee camp home of alleged Palestinian attacker

Al-Jazeera  /  August 8, 2023

Israeli forces demolished the house of Abdelfattah Kharousheh, who was accused of an attack that killed two Israelis last February.

Israeli forces raided the Askar refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus and demolished the home of a Palestinian man who was allegedly involved in killing two Israeli settlers last February.

According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, Israeli forces surrounded the third-floor home of Abdelfattah Kharousheh overnight on Tuesday and blew it up six hours after the raid.

The army had accused Kharousheh of shooting dead two settlers, Halel Menachem Yaniv and his brother Yagel Yaakov Yaniv, in February as they drove through the occupied West Bank town of Huwara.

Israeli forces killed Kharousheh, 49, during a raid the following month.

Before the demolition, Israeli soldiers forced at least 60 Palestinians – including 20 children – who lived next to the home of the Kharousheh family to leave their houses and briefly detained them inside a local mosque, according to WAFA.

The latest raid sparked heavy confrontations between the Israeli army and the camp’s residents. The Palestinian Red Crescent said they dealt with 185 cases of tear gas suffocation, and that six Palestinians were wounded, including one by live ammunition.

In a statement, the Israeli military said several “violent riots were instigated which included rock hurling and tyre burning”.

“In addition, explosive devices were hurled, and live fire was shot at the forces, who responded with riot dispersal means.”

A few weeks earlier, Israeli forces took measurements of Kharousheh’s imprisoned son’s house in preparation for its demolition, on charges of helping his father in the operation.

Speaking to local media, Kharousheh’s wife said the demolition of the family home “will not break our resolve”.

“We are steadfast here despite all that the [Israeli] occupation does,” she said.

Askar refugee camp is one of the most overcrowded camps in the West Bank, with at least 30,000 Palestinians living on 0.12sq km (0.05sq miles).

Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians it accuses of deadly attacks on Israelis, arguing that such measures act as a deterrent.

Human rights activists say the policy amounts to collective punishment, as it can render non-fighters, including children, homeless.

In a statement on Tuesday, Hamas said the Israeli tactic of demolishing homes is “a policy of impotence that has proven its failure to quell the resistance and affect the morale of the resistance fighters and their struggling families”.

Since early last year, deadly violence has rocked the northern West Bank, in conjunction with the rise of Palestinian armed groups and an increase of Israeli military operations and near-nightly raids on Palestinian towns and cities.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed this year, with the United Nations warning that 2023 is on track to be the deadliest year for Palestinians since it began recording deaths.