Two Palestinians killed in clashes as IDF razes home
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Two Palestinians killed in clashes as IDF razes home

Troops come under fire while demolishing apartment of Muhammad Abu Shaheen in Qalandiya, accused of killing Danny Gonen

File: Border Police officers at the Qalandiya checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 30, 2015. (STR/Flash90)
File: Border Police officers at the Qalandiya checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 30, 2015. (STR/Flash90)

Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank overnight Sunday-Monday in clashes that broke out as the army demolished the home of a Palestinian terrorist, Palestinian medical sources said.

The IDF said Israeli soldiers came under fire while razing the Qalandiya home of Muhammad Abu Shaheen, who Israeli officials say shot and killed 25-year-old Danny Gonen in June near the West Bank settlement of Dolev.

“During the activity, suspects opened fire at the forces. In response to the immediate danger, forces fired towards the attackers. 3 hits were confirmed,” the army said in a statement, without saying if they were killed.

Palestinian hospital sources said two Palestinians were killed, and dozens were wounded in the clash in the refugee camp north of Jerusalem, according to AFP and Palestinian media.

Earlier reports indicated three had been killed, but they later turned out to be mistaken.

There were no injuries on the Israeli side.

In a video posted online purportedly from the clash, loud shots can be heard as a fire burns near a gas station.

The army said “hundreds of Palestinians attacked the force, hurling fire bombs, IEDs and rocks. Forces used riot dispersal means in order to disperse the mob.”

The IDF completed the home demolition, it said.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon defended the actions of the soldiers at Qalandiya in an interview with Israel Radio Monday morning.

“The force reacted with professionalism, destroying the house and returning fire at those shooting at it. They left the scene without casualties to themselves.”

Pictures of the home published by the Ma’an news agency showed only the concrete shell of a top-floor apartment remaining.

The High Court of Justice on Thursday upheld demolition orders for five homes belonging to the families of Palestinians accused or convicted of carrying out terror attacks. The homes in question are those of the alleged murderers of Gonen and Malachi Rosenfeld, who were killed in separate West Bank shootings this year, as well as those belonging to the families of three Hamas members accused of killing Eitam and Naama Henkin, also in the West Bank, on October 1.

Gonen, a student and resident of Lod, was shot and killed after visiting a spring near the settlement, west of Ramallah. A second person in the car, who was wounded in the attack, said a man shot them after stopping their car and asking about the water as they were leaving the area.

Danny Gonen, 25, from Lod, who was killed Friday, June 19, 2015 in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Dolev by a Palestinian gunman (Facebook)
Danny Gonen, 25, from Lod, who was killed Friday, June 19, 2015 in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Dolev by a Palestinian gunman (Facebook)

Last month, the army razed the Hebron home of a Palestinian terrorist who ran over and stabbed to death Israeli civilian Dalia Lemkus during a wave of violence a year ago.

The demolition came after the High Court rejected a petition against the move from the family.

The practice of demolishing the family homes of terrorists has been criticized by non-governmental groups, but government officials have defended its use as a deterrent against attacks. Critics claim that in addition to being a form of collective punishment, house demolitions could motivate family members of terrorists to launch attacks themselves.

On Sunday, the father and brother of a Palestinian terrorist who shot dead two Israelis in the West Bank on Friday — Rabbi Yaakov Litman and his teenage son Netanel — were the ones to inform the Israeli authorities of his involvement, in a bid to prevent the family home from being demolished, the IDF said in a statement.

Ya’alon said that “under no circumstances” would the policy of home demolitions stop.

“This step really deters,” he said. “The best example of that is the father who turned in his son. In recent weeks and months, parents have turned in their children in or told us their children are on their way to carry out an attack. There’s no doubt it works.”

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