ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 138

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Photojournalist hit in head by rubber bullet amid clashes

IDF razes Ramallah home of terrorist accused of deadly Jerusalem bus stop bombings

Six Palestinians wounded in clashes with army near home of Eslam Froukh, 26, charged with planting explosives that killed 2 in attack last November

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

The Israeli military demolishes the home of Eslam Froukh, who is charged with carrying out a deadly twin bombing attack in Jerusalem, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 8, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
The Israeli military demolishes the home of Eslam Froukh, who is charged with carrying out a deadly twin bombing attack in Jerusalem, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 8, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday demolished the Ramallah home of a Palestinian terrorist charged with carrying out a deadly twin bombing attack in Jerusalem last year, the military said.

The military published video of army engineers drilling in the house of Eslam Froukh to place explosives, before a large blast was seen that blew out the first floor of the four-story building.

In a statement, the IDF said that the home had been destroyed after an appeal to the High Court of Justice was rejected.

The IDF said that during the demolition, clashes broke out at a number of sites and Palestinians had thrown stones, ecplosives and firebombs at the troops who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire.

The army said it had hit a number of attackers. No Israeli casualties were reported.

Video footage showed dozens of military vehicles in the area and Palestinians gathering to confront the forces. Another clip showed Palestinians hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli army vehicles.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said six people were wounded during the clashes, including three as a result of live fire, one of whom was listed in moderate condition.

The official PA news agency WAFA said a photojournalist, Moumen Sumrein, was hit in the head with a rubber bullet, and was listed in stable condition.

The IDF said that the journalist was likely hit when troops responded to the riots and said it was investigating the incident.

“An initial inquiry suggests that a Palestinian photojournalist who was in the area of the violent and crowded riots was injured, likely by a rubber bullet,” the IDF said.

“The details of the incident are under review. The IDF makes every effort to prevent any harm to non-combatants during operational activity and to allow freedom of movement and the press,” it said.

The military was widely criticized last year for the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen.

On November 23, Froukh, 26, allegedly set off two bombs at two bus stops near entrances to the capital. The attacks killed two people — 16-year-old Aryeh Schupak and 50-year-old Tadese Tashume Ben Ma’ada — and wounded over 20.

According to the Shin Bet, Froukh — a resident of Kafr Aqab in East Jerusalem who lived much of the time in the Ramallah area — committed the attack because of his affiliation with Islamic State.

Froukh was charged in December over the deadly attack.

16-year-old Aryeh Schupak (left), and Tadasa Tashume Ben Ma’ada, 50, (right) killed in a bombing attack at the entrance of Jerusalem, November 23, 2022. (Courtesy)

In January, the military mapped out both his Kafr Aqab and Ramallah homes, the first step before their potential demolition. In February, his family was formally notified of the military’s intention to raze their home in Ramallah.

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

Eslam Froukh, the alleged terrorist behind the November 2022 bombing attacks in Jerusalem, arrives for a court hearing at the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem, December 27, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the Israeli military conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank, in the wake of 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.

At least 115 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during that span, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

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