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IDF demolishes homes of Palestinians charged with killing 3 in Elad terror attack

West Bank homes of As’ad al-Rifa’i and Subhi Sbeihat, accused of deadly axe rampage, razed by military bulldozers; troops detain four wanted Palestinians in overnight raids

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

Israeli forces early Monday morning demolished the homes of two Palestinians charged with carrying out a deadly axe terror attack in the central city of Elad in May.

On May 5, As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, 19, and Subhi Emad Sbeihat, 20, hacked three people to death with an axe and severely wounded several others in the central Israeli city of Elad. A knife was also believed to have been used in the attack. The pair was arrested in a forested area about a kilometer from the scene of the attack, after a 60-hour manhunt.

Late Sunday night, the Israel Defense Forces said it was operating in the West Bank town of Rummanah, near Jenin to raze the pair’s homes.

Footage published by the IDF showed the homes being destroyed by military bulldozers.

The IDF said that during the operation, “riots developed in the area” during which hundreds of Palestinians hurled stones, set fire to tires, and launched fireworks at troops, who responded with “riot control means.”

No soldiers were hurt, according to the IDF.

In separate overnight raids across the West Bank, troops detained four wanted Palestinians, the IDF said Monday morning.

Subhi Emad Sbeihat, left, and As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, from a West Bank town near Jenin, the alleged Palestinian perpetrators of the Elad terror attack on May 5, 2022, in which three Israelis were killed and several seriously wounded. (Courtesy)

Al-Rifa’i and Sbeihat were indicted in June, and were charged with three counts of murder under aggravated circumstances in an act of terror, five counts of attempted murder in an act of terror, and entering Israel illegally, among other charges.

Al-Rifa’i confessed to security forces that he committed the axe attack with Sbeihat, killing Oren Ben Yiftah, a 35-year-old driver from Lod, and Elad residents Yonatan Havakuk and Boaz Gol, both in their 40s.

The victims of the Elad terror attack on May 5, 2022, from left to right; Boaz Gol, Yonatan Havakuk and Oren Ben Yiftah (courtesy)

Over the course of the manhunt, troops followed bloodstains believed to have been from injuries the pair sustained during the attack. Several of the victims fought with the terrorists, according to medical and security officials.

Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks as a matter of policy.

The efficacy of the policy has been hotly debated, even within the Israeli security establishment, while human rights activists denounce the practice as unjust collective punishment.

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