IDF demolishes West Bank homes of 2 suspected killers of Rina Shnerb

Soldiers carry out operations in Ramallah and village of Birzeit; move comes weeks after court rejects petition against destroying the houses

The Israeli Defense Force destroyed the homes of two suspected terrorists in the Ramallah area in the predawn hours of Thursday morning, the military said.

Large bulldozers tore down the homes — one in Ramallah and the second in the Birzeit suburb just north of the city — of two of the suspects in last August’s killing of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb in a bombing attack at a natural spring near the West Bank settlement of Dolev.

The families of the terrorists — Yasan Majamas and Walid Hanatsheh — had appealed the army’s intention to wreck their homes, but the court overruled them.

Riots broke out during the demolitions, and dozens of Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at troops and set – tires alight, the military said.

Israeli troops demolish the home of one of the terrorists involved in a bombing attack that killed Rina Shnerb, 17, at a natural spring in the West Bank last year, in the Ramallah area on March 4, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF said it responded using “crowd dispersal” means. There were no reports of injuries.

Videos shared on social media also showed Palestinians throwing firebombs at the soldiers’ vehicles as they left the area.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to Shnerb’s parents on Thursday morning to inform them of the demolition, his office said.

“Whoever harms us, we’ll hurt them back. Jewish blood is not worthless,” Bennett said.

The demolition came two weeks after the High Court of Justice rejected petitions against the demolition of the homes of two suspects in the bombing.

A panel of three judges said that “the harm to relatives and neighbors not involved in the attacks is great, but in light of the murderous waves of terror, a reasonable and limited use of the authority to confiscate and destroy, for deterrent purposes, is necessary and should not be condemned.”

Justice Hanan Melcer noted that relatives of the suspected terrorists refused to condemn their alleged actions during the court debate, and cited that as a contributing factor in the court’s decision.

Rina Shnerb, 17, who was killed in a terror attack in the West Bank on August 23, 2019 (courtesy)

The families of Hanatsheh and Majamas were notified of the intention to demolish their homes in early January.

The two are suspected members of the cell that carried out the bombing near Dolev that killed Shnerb and seriously injured her father and brother.

According to the Shin Bet security service, the explosive was planted at the site and triggered remotely by a cell belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group, led by Samer Mina Salim Arbid, who was arrested shortly after the attack.

During its investigation, the Shin Bet, working with the IDF and Israel Police, uncovered a large network of PFLP operatives, who also allegedly conducted shooting attacks against Israeli targets “and were planning to carry out other significant terror attacks in the near future,” the security service said. It announced in December that it had arrested some 50 members of the network in recent months.

Demolitions are a controversial policy that the IDF says helps deter future terror attacks.

Israeli troops demolish the home of a Palestinian terrorist in the West Bank city of Jenin on February 6, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

Palestinian and Israeli rights groups have alleged that suspects were tortured after they were arrested in the aftermath of the attack. According to security sources, the Shin Bet was given permission to employ “extraordinary measures” during the interrogation of at least one of the suspects.

This is typically allowed in “ticking time bomb” cases where there is concern the suspect could provide security forces with information that could prevent an imminent attack.

In early February the family of another alleged cell member, Qassem Shibli, was also notified of intentions to demolish its home, and given an opportunity to appeal.

AP contributed to this report.

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