Israeli troops demolished the home of a Palestinian accused of the May killing of a soldier yesterday, completing a night-long incursion into the Palestinian-controlled city of Ramallah.
The raid on the West Bank city where Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has his headquarters comes as Israeli forces search for the perpetrator of a Thursday shooting that killed two Israeli soldiers.
The incursion late Friday triggered clashes with angry residents following a week of rising tensions.
Both army and border police units took part in the operation, including members of the commando unit in which the soldier was serving when he was killed by a slab hurled from a building during an army raid.
Several hundred soldiers entered the city’s Al-Amari refugee camp late Friday, leaving yesterday morning, AFP journalists reported. Inside the camp, soldiers demolished the home of Islam Abu Hamid, who was arrested in June for the soldier’s killing.
The family house was completely destroyed in a controlled explosion, AFP correspondents at the scene said.
Neighbours said several hundred residents, including children, were ordered out of their homes and kept in a sports field in the cold of night while the army operation continued.
“The weather was very cold. A lot of the elderly, the children and the women were ill,” said Samir al-Tukhi, one of those kept outside.
It is the third time the house has been destroyed, with several of Abu Hamid’s brothers also jailed by Israel on terrorism charges, while one was killed.
Their mother, Latifa, said the demolition didn’t matter to her.
“The first time we rebuilt it, the second time we also rebuilt it. One hundred or one thousand times we will rebuild and they demolish it.” Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians who carry out attacks against Israelis.
It argues it is a deterrent though critics say it amounts to collective punishment.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced pressure from right-wing rivals and Jewish settlers for a strong response to the killing of the soldiers on Thursday.
It was the third deadly attack by Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank in two months and set off demonstrations by settler groups on whose support Netanyahu’s government depends.
In clashes on Friday, Mahmoud Nakhla, 17, was killed by Israeli fire near the Jalazone refugee camp outside Ramallah, the Palestinian health ministry said.
The army said yesterday that an “initial investigation” showed that a soldier opened fire when a Palestinian came toward him in what was seen as a potentially threatening way.
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