Palestinian said killed in Nablus clashes as IDF razes home of gunman

Palestinians say several wounded in northern West Bank city as troops demolish home of Osama Taweel, who IDF says took part in October killing of Ido Baruch

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Israeli troops demolish the apartment of Osama Taweel, a Palestinian gunman accused of killing a soldier in the West Bank, in the city of Nablus, early June 15, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops demolish the apartment of Osama Taweel, a Palestinian gunman accused of killing a soldier in the West Bank, in the city of Nablus, early June 15, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops in Nablus overnight Thursday as the military entered the northern West Bank city to demolish the home of a Palestinian gunman accused of killing a soldier last year.

One Palestinian was killed and others were wounded during the clashes, Palestinian medics said. No Israeli casualties were reported.

The troops entered Nablus shortly before midnight to demolish the home of Osama Taweel, the Israel Defense Forces said in a brief statement. IDF Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox had in April signed off on an order to seize and later demolish the home.

On October 11, 2022, Taweel and Abdel Kamel Jouri, members of the Nablus-based Lion’s Den terror group, opened fire at Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch of the Givati infantry brigade’s reconnaissance unit, killing him, according to the IDF. The attack took place as Baruch was securing a protest march by settlers at an interchange near the settlement of Shavei Shomron, outside Nablus.

The pair were arrested on February 13, and a third member of the cell who allegedly helped plan the attack, Hussam Bassam Isleem, was killed in a raid on Nablus a week later.

Clashes erupted in the area after troops entered the city, which has seen repeated IDF raids over the past year. Footage published on social media showed Palestinians hurling stones and other objects at a convoy of military vehicles.

Gunfire could be heard in other clips circulating online.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that its medics had taken two Palestinians with serious injuries to a hospital in Nablus, as a result of gunfire during the clashes. Officials at the An-Najah Hospital told the official Palestinian Wafa news agency that one of the men, Khalil Yahya Al-Anis, died of his wounds.

The Red Crescent reported that another man was struck by an IDF vehicle and some 170 others were treated for tear gas inhalation.

The IDF on Thursday morning said that during the operation, gunmen opened fire at troops, causing damage to several military vehicles. Other suspects hurled explosive devices and Molotov cocktails and launched fireworks at the forces, the IDF said.

“The troops responded with riot dispersal means and live fire at armed men,” the IDF said, adding that several suspects were hit.

The military also published a video showing the controlled blast demolishing Taweel’s apartment in Nablus.

As a matter of policy, Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks, touting the strategy as a deterrent. Human rights activists denounce the practice as unjust collective punishment, and the efficacy of the policy has been hotly debated even within the Israeli security establishment.

The family home of Jouri, the second alleged gunman, is also set to be razed after the IDF announced plans to do so in April. The family can still appeal the decision to Israel’s High Court of Justice before Fox, the Central Command chief, signs off on a demolition order, but such attempts rarely succeed. In some cases, courts have limited the demolition order to only the parts of the house used by the attacker.

The home of Isleem, the third member of the cell, was mapped out by the IDF in May in anticipation of a potential demolition.

Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch, 21, killed in a shooting attack in the West Bank on October 11, 2022, in an undated photo released by the military. (Israel Defense Forces)

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been elevated for the past year, with the military carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank, amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

Since the beginning of the year, Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 20 people and left several more seriously hurt.

According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 118 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during that span, most of them during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under more questionable circumstances.

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