IDF demolishes West Bank homes of Palestinians who gunned down Ariel guard in April

Military bulldozes Youssef Sameeh Assi’s house, blows up Yahya Marei’s; pair charged last month for shooting at settlement entrance that killed security guard Vyacheslav Golev

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

Israeli forces on Tuesday morning demolished the homes of two Palestinians accused of carrying out a deadly shooting attack in the settlement of Ariel in April.

On April 29, Vyacheslav Golev, 23, was gunned down inside a guard booth at a gate to the West Bank settlement by Palestinian assailants Youssef Sameeh Assi and Yahya Marei, according to the military.

Late Monday night the Israel Defense Forces said it was operating in the West Bank town of Qarawat Bani Hassan to raze the pair’s homes.

According to Palestinian media reports and footage later published by the IDF, Marei’s home was blown up by explosives, while Assi’s was knocked down by military bulldozers.

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

No soldiers were hurt, according to the IDF.

IDF troops are seen securing a military bulldozer, demolishing the home of Youssef Sameeh Assi. accused of a deadly shooting attack in April, in the West Bank village of Qarawat Bani Hassan, July 26, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Elsewhere in the West Bank overnight, troops detained 10 wanted Palestinians, with violent confrontations in some areas, the IDF said Tuesday morning.

An apparent delay in the demolition was thought to have been related to Joe Biden’s visit to the region earlier this month, as the Israel Defense Forces briefly paused usual overnight raids while the US president was in the country. Still, home demolitions of Palestinians accused of deadly terror attacks generally occur within a few months after the attack, even before suspects are formally convicted.

As a matter of policy, Israel demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks. The efficacy of the policy is controversial within the Israeli security establishment, and human rights activists have denounced it as unfair collective punishment.

An undated photo of Vyacheslav Golev, a security guard who was killed in a terror attack at Ariel on April 29, 2022, and his fiancée, Victoria Fligelman. (Courtesy)

In the April attack, Golev used his body to shield his fiancée, Victoria Fligelman, from the hail of bullets, saving her life. The couple both worked as security guards at the settlement and would regularly do their shifts together.

Tuesday’s demolitions were conducted after Assi and Marei were charged last month with intentionally causing the death of Golev, and Israel’s High Court rejected appeals on behalf of their families. The charge is equivalent to murder in West Bank military courts. They were also charged with the attempted murder of Fligelman.

In the indictment filed last month, prosecutors said the pair decided to carry out the attack after hearing reports of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

Yousef Sameeh Assi and Yahya Marei, arrested in the Palestinian town of Qarawat Bani Hassan on April 30, 2022, for a terror attack on April 29 at the entrance to the Ariel settlement, in which security guard Vyacheslav Golev was killed. (Social media)

The two purchased weapons —  improvised Carlo submachine guns — and a vehicle to carry out the attack. The indictment said they decided on the Ariel entrance, on a weekend night, because “they thought it would be the best way they could carry out their plan and escape from the area.”

The two were arrested in their hometown a day later.

The army also filed an indictment against the brother of one of the gunmen, who was charged with failing to prevent the attack, as well as helping the pair hide afterward.

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