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IDF once again demolishes home of soldier’s killer after it’s rebuilt

Rioting breaks out near Ramallah-area house of Islam Yousef Abu Hamid, imprisoned for killing Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky with a stone slab last year; PA vows to rebuild a 2nd time

Israeli security forces on Thursday morning again demolished the home of a Palestinian man convicted of murdering an Israeli soldier in the West Bank last year, after the building was rebuilt following its original destruction.

The Israel Defense Forces had previously destroyed the family home of Islam Yousef Abu Hamid in Ramallah’s al-Amari refugee camp in December 2018.

“Recently, the IDF spotted that rebuilding was taking place at the location,” the army said in a statement.

The funding for the reconstruction of the home was provided by the Palestinian Authority.

The PA said Thursday it would pay to once again rebuild the family home.

Senior PA official and Fatah Central Committee member Hussein al-Sheikh wrote on Twitter that according to a decision by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, “The Abu Hamid family home that was demolished by occupation forces will be rebuilt. The occupation’s bulldozers will not break us. We will not bow down to it. Our will is stronger than their tanks and bulldozers. Victory is ours.”

The Israeli military demolishes the rebuilt home of a Palestinian terrorist in the al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah on October 24, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF troops, with assistance from the Border Police and Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration, returned to al-Amari and demolished the new structure.

“During the demolition operations, a number of violent riot broke out with dozens of Palestinians throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers and troops, who responded with riot dispersal weapons,” the army said.

According to Palestinian reports, the soldiers fired tear gas at the rioters. No Israeli troops were injured.

The Israeli military demolishes the rebuilt home of a Palestinian terrorist in the al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah on October 24, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

During the demolition, soldiers arrested a number of suspected Hamas members, the army said.

The military said it would continue to monitor the sites of homes it has demolished in order to ensure that they are not rebuilt.

Israel has a policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians it says are behind deadly attacks against Israelis, saying it acts as a deterrent. Critics denounce it as a form of collective punishment that makes families homeless and can provoke further violence.

Ronen Lubarsky, an IDF soldier from the Duvdevan unit who died on May 26, 2018, after being critically injured by a slab thrown down on his head two days earlier (Courtesy)

In July an Israeli military court sentenced Abu Hamid to life in prison plus eight months for killing Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky by dropping a marble slab on his head from the third floor of a building. Abu Hamid was also ordered to pay the victim’s family NIS 258,000 ($72,900).

The 20-year-old IDF soldier, a special forces member, was attacked during an arrest operation in the al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah on May 24, 2018. He died of his injuries two days later.

The IDF said that the soldiers had been on a mission to arrest members of a terror cell who had been carrying out shooting attacks.

Abu Hamid had been incarcerated in Israeli prison from 2004 to 2009 for terrorist activities committed on behalf of the Hamas terrorist group.

After the December 2018 demolition of the family home, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, deputy chairman of the Fatah party, said the Palestinian Authority would pay for it to be rebuilt.

The Hamid family had asked the High Court of Justice to nullify the IDF’s demolition order because at the time their son had not yet been convicted of killing Lubarsky, also arguing that demolishing the entire building would cause disproportionate harm to the other occupants who were not involved in the attack. The family said that the IDF only moved to demolish the entire building at the urging of the Lubarsky family.

In the unanimous decision, the court acknowledged that razing the entire building would unfairly harm some residents, but said Israel’s security considerations and the need to establish deterrence against future attacks “did not justify reducing the scope of the demolition order.”

Last September, Hamid’s family was informed that the IDF intended to destroy all four stories of the building, and not just two floors as had previously been stated.

The IDF noted that the home was erected on a plot where a building was previously demolished in the 1990s, following an attack by Hamid’s brother. At the time, the family was ordered not to rebuild the structure.

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