AP / February 16, 2023
HEBRON, West Bank –Israeli forces demolished the home on Thursday of a Palestinian behind a deadly shooting in the occupied West Bank, as tensions and unrest surge in the region.
The military said the demolition was carried out after an Israeli court rejected appeals to spare the residence. The home, in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron, was demolished in a controlled explosion. A flash and then grey tufts of smoke were seen emerging from the apartment in the early morning hours.
Israel says home demolitions are meant to deter future attackers but critics say they amount to collective punishment against the families of assailants and only exacerbate tensions with Palestinians.
In the fatal shooting incident last year, Muhammed Kamel al-Jabari opened fire at the entrance to an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, killing an Israeli man and wounding several civilians before a security guard shot him dead.
The demolition comes as unrest has been roiling the region for months. Israel has been conducting near-nightly arrest raids in the West Bank, which were prompted by a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis last spring. Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2022, making it the deadliest year in those territories since 2004, according to a leading Israeli rights group.
Nearly 50 Palestinians have been killed in those lands just this year, a sign that the fighting has intensified in recent weeks, just as Israel’s new, far-right government has risen to power. It has promised to take a tough line against the Palestinians, and already has taken steps to ramp up West Bank settlement building.
Israel says most of those killed have been militants. But youth protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.
Some 30 people were killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis last year and another seven people were killed in an attack outside an east Jerusalem synagogue last month.
Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.