The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday began preparing to demolish the home of a Palestinian man suspected of killing an Israeli soldier with a brick last month during a West Bank arrest raid.
In the predawn hours of Thursday morning, IDF troops entered the suspect’s village of Yabed in the northern West Bank, where Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Ygal was killed, and measured his house — the first step in its eventual demolition.
“The mapping was performed in order to assess the possibility of razing the home,” the IDF said in a statement.
The military takes a variety of measurements of the structure of a house prior to demolition to determine the most effective and safest ways to raze it.
In the predawn hours of May 12, the Golani Reconnaissance Battalion carried out a series of arrests in Yabed.
According to the IDF’s initial investigation, as the Golani Reconnaissance Battalion was making its way out of the town at roughly 4:30 a.m., Ben-Ygal apparently heard a sound coming from one of the rooftops on the outskirts of the village and looked up.
As he did, exposing his face, someone on the roof of the three-story building threw the brick at him. Ben-Ygal was fatally wounded. He received treatment at the scene before being flown by helicopter to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
The suspect, 49-year-old Nazmi Abu Bakr, was arrested along with several other people who were believed to have been in the building at the time, and in recent days he confessed to being the one who threw the brick, the Shin Bet security service said Sunday.
Charges have not yet been filed by the military prosecutor.
Ben-Ygal, 21, was the first IDF soldier to be killed in action in 2020. He was posthumously promoted from staff sergeant to sergeant first class.
Despite the lack of formal charges, the announcement of the breakthrough in the case was met with widespread enthusiasm from political leaders.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised the security forces for apprehending the “lowly killer,” and said he had ordered that Abu Bakr’s family home be destroyed. “Those who try to hurt us — we will get our hands on them, sooner or later,” he said.
Israel uses controversial home demolitions of terrorists, often before they are convicted, as a form of deterrence.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement he hoped the arrest would bring some comfort to Ben-Ygal’s bereaved parents. “Those who harm Israeli citizens and IDF soldiers will pay a heavy price. We will get to them, anywhere they may be,” he said.
That was echoed by President Reuven Rivlin, who said: “Proud of the security forces who captured the terrorist who murdered IDF Staff Sgt Amit Ben Yigal after many nights of relentless pursuit. We will act uncompromisingly against terrorism and its perpetrators to keep Israelis safe.”