The Israeli military raided the Palestinian town of Deir Ammar northwest of Ramallah before dawn on Friday in order to map out the home of a terrorist who killed an off-duty soldier and wounded six others in a truck-ramming attack the day before near a West Bank checkpoint close to the central city of Modiin.
The Israel Defense Forces said that during the operation, Palestinian rioters hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers, who responded with riot dispersal means, including the firing of a Ruger rifle. The .22-caliber round from a Ruger rifle is considered less lethal than the larger caliber rounds typically used by the military. Human rights groups have condemned the use of the rifle for riot control, as it can still kill.
No soldiers were hurt.
The operation was the first step in the demolition process regularly employed by Israel against the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly attacks.
The process usually lasts several months and includes court hearings for appeals by attackers’ families that are rarely successful.
The efficacy of the policy has been hotly debated even within the Israeli security establishment, and human rights activists denounce the practice as unjust collective punishment. The Biden administration has also spoken out against the practice.
The attacker, identified as Daoud Abdel Razak Faiz, arrived at the Maccabim checkpoint from the Israeli side, made a U-turn without entering the West Bank, and ran over a number of off-duty soldiers who were walking on the side of the road. The soldiers were walking from a nearby army post to a bus station in order to attend a team-building activity in Modiin.
Faiz then fled toward the Hashmonaim checkpoint, some seven kilometers (4.3 miles) away, where he was shot dead by security forces before he could manage to re-enter the West Bank.
The attack left one soldier dead, another in serious condition, and two more in reasonable condition.
A Palestinian teenager working at a stall on the side of the road was lightly hurt, and an Israeli couple, aged 25, were also lightly hurt after their car was hit by the attacker.
The slain soldier was later named as Cpl. Maksym Molchanov, 20, who moved to Israel from Ukraine in 2017 through the Jewish Agency’s Naale Elite Academy, a program for Jewish teenagers to complete their high school education in Israel.
Molchanov was a “lone soldier,” which the military defines as troops whose parents do not live in Israel or who are not supported financially by their parents.
Last year, Molchanov donated bone marrow that saved the life of a 12-year-old boy.
He was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Faiz, a father of five, from the nearby West Bank town of Deir ‘Ammar, had a permit to enter Israel for work. He had no prior security offenses, according to the Shin Bet security agency.
However, the Defense Ministry said that he was apprehended by security guards at the Hashmonaim checkpoint two weeks ago while allegedly drunk and refused to identify himself and cooperate. The ministry said the guards “used reasonable force” against Faiz.
The attack came as tensions have remained high across the region, amid a string of Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have left 27 civilians and three soldiers dead, and several others seriously wounded since the beginning of the year.
According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 177 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during the same period — 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, including by armed Israeli settlers.
According to fresh figures provided by the defense establishment on Thursday, security forces have carried out more than 2,000 arrest operations in the West Bank and foiled more than 470 terror attacks since the beginning of the year.