IDF troops enter West Bank town to raze homes of gunmen accused of Ariel attack

Youssef Sameeh Assi and Yahya Marei were charged last month with murder for April shooting at settlement entrance that killed security guard Vyacheslav Golev

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Israeli military vehicles are seen in the West Bank town of Qarawat Bani Hassan, July 25, 2022. (Screenshot: Twitter)
Israeli military vehicles are seen in the West Bank town of Qarawat Bani Hassan, July 25, 2022. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Israeli troops entered a West Bank town Monday evening to demolish the homes of two Palestinians accused of carrying out a deadly shooting attack in the settlement of Ariel in April, the military said.

An apparent delay in the planned demolition is thought to have been related to Joe Biden’s visit to the region earlier this month, as the Israel Defense Forces briefly paused usual overnight raids while the US president was in the country. Still, home demolitions of Palestinians accused of deadly terror attacks generally occur within a few months after the attack, even before suspects are formally convicted.

On April 29, Vyacheslav Golev, 23, was gunned down inside a guard booth at a gate to the West Bank settlement by Palestinian assailants Youssef Sameeh Assi and Yahya Marei.

Golev used his body to shield his fiancée, Victoria Fligelman, from the hail of bullets, saving her life. The couple both worked as security guards at the settlement and would regularly do their shifts together.

Assi and Marei were charged last month with intentionally causing the death of Golev. The charge is equivalent to murder in West Bank military courts. They were also charged with the attempted murder of Fligelman.

In a brief statement, the IDF said troops were operating in Qarawat Bani Hassan to demolish the pair’s homes. Footage circulating on social media showed a convoy of military vehicles in the Palestinian town.

As a matter of policy, Israel demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks. The efficacy of the policy is controversial within the Israeli security establishment, and human rights activists have denounced it as unfair collective punishment. Israeli law does not require attackers to have been convicted before their homes are demolished.

An undated photo of Vyacheslav Golev, a security guard who was killed in a terror attack at Ariel on April 29, 2022, and his fiancée, Victoria Fligelman. (Courtesy)

In the indictment filed last month, prosecutors said the pair decided to carry out the attack after hearing reports of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

The two purchased weapons —  improvised Carlo submachine guns — and a vehicle to carry out the attack. The indictment said they decided on the Ariel entrance, on a weekend night, because “they thought it would be the best way they could carry out their plan and escape from the area.”

The two were arrested in their hometown a day later.

Yousef Sameeh Assi and Yahya Marei, arrested in the Palestinian town of Qarawat Bani Hassan on April 30, 2022, for a terror attack on April 29 at the entrance to the Ariel settlement, in which security guard Vyacheslav Golev was killed. (Social media)

The army also filed an indictment against the brother of one of the gunmen, who was charged with failing to prevent the attack, as well as helping the pair hide afterward.

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