IDF orders demolition of Givat Assaf, Ofra terrorists’ homes
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IDF orders demolition of Givat Assaf, Ofra terrorists’ homes

After appeal fails, military again gives notice to families of Salih and Asem Barghouti, accused in two deadly West Bank shooting attacks

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: A structure demolished in Jenin by Israeli security forces during an operation to arrest Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, the alleged killer of Rabbi Raziel Shevach (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: A structure demolished in Jenin by Israeli security forces during an operation to arrest Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, the alleged killer of Rabbi Raziel Shevach (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Monday announced its intention to demolish the homes of two Palestinian terrorists who allegedly conducted two deadly shooting attacks in under a week in December.

The brothers Salih and Asem Barghouti are believed to have conducted a December 9 terrorist attack outside the Ofra settlement, in which seven Israelis were injured, among them a seven-months pregnant woman, who was seriously wounded. The woman’s baby was delivered in an emergency operation, but died days later.

Salih Barghouti was shot dead three days later in his hometown of Kobar as he attacked Israeli security forces in an attempt to evade arrest, the army said. A day after that, Asem Barghouti opened fire at a bus stop outside the Givat Assaf outpost near Ramallah, killing two soldiers stationed there and seriously injuring a third serviceman and a civilian woman, according to the IDF.

Asem Barghouti, who fled the scene after the shooting, was arrested in the home of an alleged accomplice in the nearby village of Abu Shukheidim on January 8.

A photo composite shows Sgt. Yosef Cohen, left, and Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef of the IDF’s Kfir Brigade. The two were killed on December 13, 2018, in a terrorist shooting attack outside the Givat Assaf settlement outpost in the central West Bank. (Israel Defense Forces)

On January 20, the military notified the family of Asem Barghouti of its plans to destroy his home in Kobar. The family appealed the decision to the High Court of Justice, but the judges upheld the IDF’s plan to demolish the house.

On Monday, the head of the Central Command Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan, who has authority over the West Bank, signed the official demolition order for the home.

In addition, the IDF on Monday said it informed the Barghouti family of its intention to demolish the apartment where Asem’s late brother Salih lived.

The family has three days to appeal the decision.

When Israeli security forces arrested Asem Barghouti in January, the Shin Bet said he had been “busy preparing to carry out additional terror attacks.”

A Kalashnikov assault rifle, several magazines full of ammunition and night-vision equipment were found and confiscated during the arrest, the security service said.

Since the terror attacks, Israeli troops have arrested and questioned dozens of family members and associates of the Barghouti brothers.

Asem Barghouti, whose family has an extensive history in the Hamas terror group, was set free from an Israeli prison in April 2017 after serving an 11-year sentence.

Asem (L) and Salih (R) Barghouti at a rally in Kobar after the former was released from Israeli prison in April 2018 (screenshot: Twitter)

Seven people were wounded in the drive-by shooting attack on a bus stop outside Ofra on December 9, which Israel says was committed by the two Barghoutis.

Hamas later confirmed that Salih was behind the attack.

Shira Ish-Ran was critically injured in the shooting. Her baby — delivered in emergency surgery by doctors hours later — died after four days as a result of the attack. He was posthumously named Amiad Yisrael.

Shira and her husband Amichai, who sustained three gunshot wounds to the leg, have since been released from the hospital.

The day after Israeli forces shot and killed Salih, Asem allegedly shot dead the two soldiers near Givat Assaf — Sgt. Yosef Cohen and Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef — and seriously wounded two other people, soldier Netanel Felber and Shira Sabag, a civilian woman.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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