IDF issues demolition order for home of gunman accused of killing soldier last year

Military says Nablus home of Lion’s Den member Osama Taweel to be razed; second attacker’s home measured last month, but no order issued

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

An Israeli soldier takes measurements at the home of a Palestinian gunman who killed an Israeli soldier, in the West Bank city of Nablus, early February 20, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
File: An Israeli soldier takes measurements at the home of a Palestinian gunman who killed an Israeli soldier, in the West Bank city of Nablus, early February 20, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday night notified the family of a Palestinian gunman accused of killing a soldier in the West Bank last year that the military intends to demolish their home in the city of Nablus.

On October 11, 2022, Abdel Kamel Jouri and Osama Taweel, 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. Baruch was shot by the gunmen while securing a march held by settlers near the Palestinian town of Sebastia. He was stationed near an interchange close to the nearby settlement of Shavei Shomron.

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

In late February, the IDF said troops measured both Jouri and Taweel’s homes, the first step before their potential demolition.

On Tuesday night, only Taweel’s family was notified of the military’s intention to raze their home in Nablus, the IDF said.

It was unclear why Jouri’s home was not also slated for demolition at this time.

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)

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.

Taweel’s family can still appeal the decision to raze the home to Israel’s High Court of Justice. But such attempts rarely succeed, though in some cases the court can limit the demolition order to only the parts of the house used by the attacker.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks. Those tensions have ramped up even further in recent weeks, which saw a cycle of deadly Israeli raids and Palestinian attacks, as well as an uptick in settler violence.

Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank in recent months have left 15 Israelis dead and several more seriously hurt.

At least 86 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, though some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

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