Israel demolishes family home of suspected Palestinian attacker

The demolition of Montaser Shalabi’s home draws US criticism as rights groups say the policy is collective punishment.

A Palestinian woman reacts outside a building that belonged to Montaser Shalabi, who was arrested in May on suspicion of carrying out a drive-by shooting attack on an Israeli student, after it was demolished by Israeli forces in the village of Turmus'ayya near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank [Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP]

Israeli forces have demolished the family home of a Palestinian American man accused of being involved in a shooting that killed an Israeli and wounded two others in the occupied West Bank last May.

Montaser Shalabi was indicted in an Israeli military court over the attack near the city of Nablus in which student Yehuda Guetta was shot dead.

After an appeal in an Israeli court by Shalabi’s family against the demolition was unsuccessful, the military said, the two-storey villa in Turmus’ayya, a village in which many Palestinian Americans live, was levelled in a controlled explosion on Thursday.

Israel says such demolitions deter potential Palestinian assailants. Palestinians and rights groups condemn the policy as collective punishment.

Shalabi’s wife, Sanaa, who lived with three of their children in the home in Turmus’ayya, said she spoke with her husband by telephone on Thursday. She described him as a “resister” and resolved to rebuild the house.

“They want to demoralise us, but we are steadfast. This is the situation of the entire Palestinian people,” she said.

‘Punitive demolition’

Palestinians and rights groups condemn the home demolition policy as collective punishment [Jaafar Ashtiyey/AFP]

In a statement after the home was destroyed, the US embassy in Jerusalem called on “all parties to refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This certainly includes the punitive demolition of Palestinian homes,” a spokesperson said.

“As we stated numerous times, the home of an entire family should not be demolished for the actions of one individual.”

US criticism of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians was rare during the presidency of Donald Trump, who embraced Israel’s settlements – seen by many countries as illegal – in the West Bank. US President Joe Biden has sought to rebuild relations with the Palestinians.

An official in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said: “The prime minister appreciates and respects the US administration. At the same time, it acts solely in accordance with the security considerations of the State of Israel and the protection of the lives of Israeli citizens.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies