IDF razes home of 2nd gunman accused of killing soldier in West Bank last year

Footage shows controlled blasts at Nablus home of Abdel Kamel Jouri, who IDF says took part in October killing of Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch

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

Israeli troops demolish the apartment of Abdel Kamel Jouri, a Palestinian gunman accused of killing a soldier in the West Bank, in the city of Nablus, early June 22, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops demolish the apartment of Abdel Kamel Jouri, a Palestinian gunman accused of killing a soldier in the West Bank, in the city of Nablus, early June 22, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli troops entered the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday morning, amid an escalation in violence in the territory, to destroy the home of a Palestinian gunman accused of killing an Israeli soldier last year.

On October 11, 2022, Osama Taweel and Abdel Kamel Jouri, 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, according to the military. The attack took place as Baruch was securing a protest march by settlers at an interchange near the settlement of Shavei Shomron, outside Nablus.

Taweel and Jouri were arrested on February 13, and a third member of the cell who allegedly helped plan the attack, Hussam Bassam Isleem, was killed in a raid on Nablus a week later.

“The IDF is operating in the city of Nablus to destroy the home of one of the terrorists who carried out the attack that killed Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a brief statement early Thursday morning, referring to Jouri.

Last week, one Palestinian was killed in clashes as the military went into Nablus to demolish the home of Taweel, the other accused attacker in the killing.

Clashes again erupted in the area early Thursday, with the Palestinian Red Crescent reporting that it had treated some 33 people, mostly as a result of tear gas inhalation.

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)

The IDF said that Palestinian gunmen had opened fire at troops, while others hurled explosive devices causing slight damage to a military vehicle. Other rioters threw stones and set fire to tires in the area, the IDF said in a later statement.

“The troops responded with riot dispersal means,” the military said, adding that no soldiers were hurt.

Footage published by the IDF showed Jouri’s apartment being demolished in a number of controlled blasts.

As a matter of policy, Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks, touting the strategy as a deterrent. Human rights activists denounce the practice as unjust collective punishment, and the efficacy of the policy has been hotly debated even within the Israeli security establishment.

The home of Isleem, the third member of the cell, was measured by the IDF in May in anticipation of a potential demolition.

Nablus has seen repeated IDF raids over the past year, and Thursday’s home demolition came amid a spate of violence in the West Bank.

Four Israelis were killed and four others wounded by Hamas-affiliated gunmen in the central West Bank on Tuesday. One of the terrorists was shot dead at the scene by an armed Israeli civilian, while the second fled and was killed some two hours later by special forces.

Following the attack, hundreds of Israeli settlers rampaged through several Palestinian communities, setting homes, cars, and fields on fire and terrorizing residents. One Palestinian was killed in the town of Turmus Ayya in unclear circumstances, and another 12 were wounded.

The rampages appeared to be a grim repeat of an incident some termed a “pogrom” earlier this year, after another deadly Palestinian shooting attack.

Late Wednesday, an IDF drone struck a car carrying three Palestinian gunmen who had just opened fire at a checkpoint in the northern West Bank.

The strike, which the IDF said killed all three, marked the first targeted killings in the West Bank since 2006, and came after attack helicopters were used in a military raid in the northern West Bank city of Jenin earlier this week, also for the first time in some two decades.

The scene of an Israeli drone strike on a vehicle near the West Bank city of Jenin on June 21, 2023 (Social media: Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Over the past year, Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted troops carrying out arrest raids, military posts, Israeli settlements and civilians on roads, especially in the northern West Bank.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been elevated for the past year and a half, with the military carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank, amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

Since the beginning of the year, Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 24 people, including Tuesday’s victims — 17-year-old Nachman Mordoff, 17-year-old Elisha Anteman, 21-year-old Harel Masood and 64-year-old Ofer Fayerman.

According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 132 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during that span, most of them during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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