IDF demolishes West Bank home of suspected killer of Rina Shnerb

IDF demolishes West Bank home of suspected killer of Rina Shnerb

Soldiers carry out operations in Kobar after court rejects petition against destroying the home, 2 months after bulldozers demolished residences of 2 other alleged cell members

The Israel Defense Forces destroyed the home of a suspected terrorist in the Ramallah area in the predawn hours of Monday morning, the military said.

Bulldozers tore down the top floors of the Kobar home of Qassem Shibli, a suspect in last August’s killing of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb in a bombing attack at a natural spring near the West Bank settlement of Dolev.

The family had appealed the army’s intention to wreck their home, but the court overruled them.

Footage from the scene that was shared on Palestinian social media showed the top floors of the building completely destroyed while the bottom floors appeared to be relatively unscathed.

An IDF bulldozer tears down the home of a suspected terrorist in the West Bank town of Kobar on May 11, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

Riots broke out during the demolitions, and dozens of Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at troops and set tires alight, the military said.

A video from Kobar showed Palestinians throwing numerous firebombs at the IDF convoy as it made its way out of the village following the demolition.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett praised the military’s demolition of Shibli’s home, calling the practice an “important tool” in deterring future terror attacks.

“All those who are planning a terror attack will see and will think twice. We will continue to exact a heavy price from all those who raise a hand against Israeli citizens. Whoever hurts us, we’ll hurt them back,” Bennett said in a statement.

Home demolitions are a controversial policy that the IDF says helps deter future terror attacks. Though over the years, a number of Israeli defense officials have questioned the efficacy of the practice and human rights activists have denounced it as unfair collective punishment.

In March, the IDF destroyed the homes of two other suspected members of the cell, Yasan Majamas and Walid Hanatsheh.

The attack that killed Shnerb also seriously injured her father and brother.

Illustrative — Israeli troops demolish the home of one of the terrorists involved in a bombing attack that killed Rina Shnerb, 17, at a natural spring in the West Bank last year, in the Ramallah area on March 4, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

According to the Shin Bet security service, the explosive was planted at the site and triggered remotely by a cell belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group, led by Samer Mina Salim Arbid, who was arrested shortly after the attack.

During its investigation, the Shin Bet, working with the IDF and Israel Police, uncovered a large network of PFLP operatives, who also allegedly conducted shooting attacks against Israeli targets “and were planning to carry out other significant terror attacks in the near future,” the security service said. It announced in December that it had arrested some 50 members of the network in recent months.

Clockwise from top-left, PFLP members Nizam Mahmoud, Qassem Shibli, Yasan Majamas, Samer Arbid, Walid Hanatsheh, Abdel Raziq Faraj, Khalida Jarrar and Itaraf Hajaj, who are all arrested by the Shin Bet security service on suspicion of having directly carried out or approved a deadly bombing attack on an Israeli family outside the Dolev settlement in August 2019 (Shin Bet)

Palestinian and Israeli rights groups have alleged that suspects were tortured after they were arrested in the aftermath of the attack. According to security sources, the Shin Bet was given permission to employ “extraordinary measures” during the interrogation of at least one of the suspects.

This is typically allowed in “ticking time bomb” cases where there is concern the suspect could provide security forces with information that could prevent an imminent attack.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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