Israeli army razes West Bank home of slain Palestinian attacker

Omar Abu Laila, 19, was killed last month two days after he was suspected of carrying out a stabbing attack.

Israeli army demolish home of Palestinian Omar Abu Laila
Israeli forces declared the area a closed military zone before carrying out the demolition using explosives and heavy machinery [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu]

Israeli forces on Wednesday destroyed the family home of a Palestinian teenager who was suspected of carrying out a deadly stabbing and shooting attack in the occupied West Bank last month.

Omar Abu Laila, 19, who was on the run, was found in a house in the village of Abwein, north of Ramallah. He was killed on March 20 after he opened fire at Israeli forces who had come to arrest him two days after the attack.

Omar had allegedly killed an Israeli soldier with a knife at a junction near the illegal Jewish settlement of Ariel in the West Bank.

He then reportedly fired on three vehicles, hitting a 47-year-old rabbi who later died, before taking over a car and driving to another nearby junction where he opened fire and wounded another soldier.

Following the incident, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged tough action and vowed to destroy the Abu Laila family home.

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Israeli soldiers surrounded the two-storey home late on Tuesday in Az-Zawiya in the Salfit region of the occupied West Bank and declared the area a closed military zone before carrying out the demolition using explosives and heavy machinery.

According to local media reports, armed soldiers and bulldozers surrounded the entire neighbourhood, forcing the Abu Laila family – including Omar’s parents and four siblings – out of their home.

Some 50 other neighbouring families were also forced to evacuate their homes upon the Israeli army’s arrival.

“The demolition of our home will not destroy our morale and our strife … we will one day rebuild our home,” Maan news agency quoted Omar’s father as saying.

During the demolition process, which took approximately six hours, confrontations broke out between Palestinian residents and soldiers at the scene. Israeli forces fired tear gas and sound bombs towards the Palestinians, but no injuries were reported.

Local media said that while soldiers “directly assaulted” journalists in the area, a photographer for a local television station suffered injuries from tear gas inhalation.

Last week, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the Abu Laila family’s appeal against the demolition order, and gave them until Tuesday to evacuate, the Maan news agency said.

Israel routinely demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of attacks as part of a policy it says discourages future violence.

International rights groups have long criticised Israel for demolishing homes of suspected Palestinian attackers, saying it amounts to collective punishment.

Source: Al Jazeera