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IDF razes home of accused accomplice in Jerusalem attack

Soldiers come under fire as they destroy residence of Palestinian who allegedly supplied gun used to kill border guard in February

IDF soldiers descended on the West Bank town of Qabatiya, near Jenin, early Monday morning and destroyed the home of a Palestinian accused of being an accomplice in an attack that killed a border policewoman in Jerusalem, the army said.

Balal Abu Zeid allegedly supplied a gun and drove the attackers who killed Hadar Cohen, 19, in a shooting and stabbing attack at the Damascus Gate of the Old City in February.

The three attackers who carried out the attack were armed with rifles, knives and two pipe bombs. They were killed by police at the scene, and their families’ homes were destroyed in April.

During the pre-dawn IDF operation, Palestinians rioted and attacked the soldiers with guns and explosives. The troops shot three gunmen, the army said in a statement, without elaborating on the nature of the injuries sustained by the three. There were no reports of injuries to Israeli forces.

The apartment, which was on the second floor of a two-story building, was destroyed, but the main structure was left intact.

Security forces destroying the home of Palestinian Balal Abu Zeid who was convicted of assisting in a terror attacked during which a border guard was killed. Abu Zeid's home in Qabatiya was demolished July 18, 2016. (IDF spokesperson)
Security forces destroying the home of Palestinian Balal Abu Zeid who was convicted of assisting in a terror attacked during which a border guard was killed. Abu Zeid’s home in Qabatiya was demolished July 18, 2016. (IDF spokesperson)

Earlier this month the High Court of Justice rejected an appeal by Abu Zeid’s father against the demolition of the home, where the alleged accomplice lived with his parents and siblings, including two minors.

In their decision, the High Court justices wrote that Abu Zeid played a “very significant role” in the attack.

During his testimony, Abu Zeid confessed to aiding the attackers but said he had declined to join them in carrying out the attack. “I refused and told them that I wanted to stay alive and kill Jews,” he was quoted as saying.

Cohen, the border guard, died hours after being shot in the head and stabbed in the neck. She had been drafted into the Border Police only two months earlier, and was still in training at the time of the attack. Two other policewomen were wounded.

Border Police officer Hadar Cohen, 19, was killed in a terror attack at Damascus Gate outside of Jerusalem's Old City on February 3, 2016. (Israel Police)
Border Police officer Hadar Cohen, 19, was killed in a terror attack at Damascus Gate outside of Jerusalem’s Old City on February 3, 2016. (Israel Police)

Cohen was part of a three-member squad that spotted the three Palestinians behaving suspiciously and asked to see their identification papers. As one attacker withdrew his ID card, the others opened fire and pulled out knives to attack the officers.

According to police, Cohen managed to return fire before she was mortally wounded, despite being surprised by the attackers.

Israel frequently demolishes the family homes of accused attackers, but rarely does so for accomplices in attacks. Rights groups have argued the measure is unlawful, but Israel says it deters would-be attackers.

In other overnight activities Sunday, security forces seized a pistol and ammunition in the West Bank city of Hebron.

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