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IDF razes home of Palestinian accused in deadly Petah Tikva stabbing

Clashes break out as troops carry out demolition of home of Khalil Abd al-Khaliq Dweikat, charged with murdering Rabbi Shai Ohayon in August

Israeli security forces demolish the home of a Palestinian man suspected of stabbing to death an Israeli rabbi in a terror attack,  in the northern West Bank village of Rujeeb on November 2, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli security forces demolish the home of a Palestinian man suspected of stabbing to death an Israeli rabbi in a terror attack, in the northern West Bank village of Rujeeb on November 2, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli forces destroyed the West Bank home of a Palestinian man accused of stabbing an Israeli rabbi to death in a terror attack near Tel Aviv in late August, the military said.

Videos and pictures posted on social media showed Israeli military machinery razing the home of Khalil Abd al-Khaliq Dweikat in the northern West Bank town of Rujeeb south of Nablus early Monday morning. Dweikat was captured moments after the deadly stabbing of Rabbi Shai Ohayon, a 39-year-old father of four, in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva.

“The demolition was carried out after the terrorist’s family’s appeal to the [High Court of Justice] was rejected on October 25,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

Clashes broke out during the demolition operation, with at least one Palestinian reported injured.

Israeli security forces demolish the home of a Palestinian man suspected of stabbing to death an Israeli rabbi in a terror attack, in the northern West Bank village of Rujeeb on November 2, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

According to the IDF, some 150 Palestinians took part in the riot, burning tires and throwing stones and glass bottle filled with paint.

“IDF troops responded with riot dispersal weapons,” the military said.

In September, Dweikat was charged with aggravated murder in the stabbing death of Ohayon on August 26.

Ohayon was a member of Petah Tikva’s ultra-Orthodox community and studied full time at a religious institution known as a kollel in the nearby town of Kfar Saba, according to ultra-Orthodox news outlets.

Rabbi Shai Ohayon, who was stabbed to death in an apparent terror attack at Segula Junction on August 26, 2020 (Courtesy)

Dweikat, a father of six, had no history of terrorist activities, the Shin Bet said shortly after the attack.

Court papers unsealed at the time of the indictment showed that Dweikat confessed the crime to investigators. Throughout his investigation the defendant did not “show any empathy, remorse, or regret for the victim or his family,” prosecutors noted.

Israeli authorities often take punitive action such as home demolitions even before a conviction. Jerusalem defends the controversial practice of razing the family home of attackers as a deterrent against future assaults and officials have argued that speed is essential, claiming that the deterrent’s efficacy degrades over time.

According to the indictment, Dweikat worked at a construction site in the city and had a valid permit to be in Israel. “The defendant considered and arrived at a decision to kill a Jewish Israeli citizen or soldier with a knife… for Palestine, the Palestinian people, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Allah,” prosecutors wrote.

Sivan Ohayon, wife of Rabbi Shai Ohayon, and family members arrive for a court hearing of Khalil Abd al-Khaliq Dweikat, the Palestinian accused his August murder in Petah Tikva, seen at the Lod District Court, on September 7, 2020. (Flash90)

Taking a knife from the kitchen at the building site on August 26, Dweikat went looking for a victim. After an hour at around 1:15 p.m. he saw Ohayon, whom he identified by his appearance as an ultra-Orthodox Jew.

Khalil Abd al-Khaliq Dweikat, the Palestinian terrorist accused in the August murder of Rabbi Shai Ohayon in Petah Tikva, seen on a screen via a video link during a court hearing in Lod, on September 7, 2020. (Flash90)

“The defendant pulled out the knife from his pocket and stabbed the deceased with three deep cuts,” prosecutors wrote.

Ohayon called out for help and a passerby, noticing what was happening, threw an object at Dweikat in an effort to help, successfully scaring him away.

Camera footage from the scene showed Dweikat calmly crossing an intersection with civilians and then police closing in on him.

The Shin Bet security service has classified the stabbing as a terror attack.

It is highly unusual for Palestinians with work permits to carry out attacks in Israel, having undergone significant background checks and regular screenings by Israeli security services.

It is similarly uncommon for so-called “lone wolf” attacks to be carried out by middle-aged men; typically assailants are in their teens or twenties.

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