ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Netanyahu says he’s doing ‘everything’ to destroy terrorists’ homes

Comment comes amid criticism of current policy by bereaved families, who demand more sweeping and swift demolitions

Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset on December 17, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset on December 17, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israel will do “everything” to demolish terrorists’ homes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Monday, hours after the military partially destroyed the home of terrorist Ashraf Na’alowa, who was killed four days ago in a firefight with IDF forces in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

At a faction meeting of his ruling Likud party, Netanyahu recounted his recent meeting with the family of Ziv Hajbi, who was killed by Na’alowa in a terror attack in the Barkan industrial zone along with Kim Levengrond Yehezkel.

“We told them we are embracing them, and I am embracing them on behalf of you and the entire Israeli nation. It was very moving,” he said.

“We are doing everything to fight these terrorists and demolish their homes. I am checking the procedures to see if something can be done with the legal restrictions,” Netanyahu added.

Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, a Palestinian man suspected of carrying out a deadly terror attack on October 7, 2018 in the Barkan Industrial Zone in the northern West Bank. (Courtesy)

On October 7, Na’alowa, 23, killed his coworkers Levengrond Yehezkel and Hajbi at a factory where all three worked in the Barkan Industrial Zone in the West Bank. Another Israeli woman was injured in the attack.

After a two-month manhunt, Israeli forces found and killed him last Thursday. According to the IDF, Na’alowa opened fire at the officers who came to arrest him, and the troops shot back, killing him.

During the home demolition on Monday, the structure itself of Na’alowa’s home was left intact while a part of its interior was destroyed by bulldozers. Parts of the building belong to family members who were determined by Israeli security services to have played no role in the terror attack.

Netanyahu also vowed to catch all the terrorists who committed last week’s shooting attack near the Givat Assaf outpost, in which two soldiers were killed, another was very seriously wounded and a civilian was seriously wounded.

“That is one struggle we are undertaking since we are surrounded by extreme Islam and great extremism, and we are generally safeguarding ourselves as a remarkable island of calm, which unfortunately isn’t always complete,” the premier said.

The IDF said on Sunday that it had recovered the Kalachnikov rifle used in the terror attack, as well as one of the soldiers’ rifles, which had been stolen from the scene after the attack.

The terrorist behind the attack remains at large.

Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29 (left), and Ziv Hajbi, 35, who were killed in a terror shooting in the Barkan industrial zone in the West Bank, October 7, 2018 (screenshots: Facebook)

On Monday morning, relatives of Hajbi and Levengrond Yehezkel slammed the partial demolition of Na’alowa’s home, saying it was only “half the job” and that it would have been better to not destroy anything than to only destroy walls of a single apartment.

Na’alowa had eluded capture for over two months, and was helped along the way by individuals believed linked to Hamas cells operating in the West Bank. A number of his relatives and alleged accomplices were arrested and indicted as part of the manhunt.

Levengrond Yehezkel was a secretary and Hajbi worked in accounting at the Alon Group’s factory in the Barkan industrial park. Na’alowa was employed there as an electrician.

Israel has defended its policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinian terrorists who commit attacks in which people are killed or seriously injured on the grounds that it discourages future attacks. The controversial measure has been criticized by human rights groups as a form of collective punishment, and some analysts and officials question its effectiveness as a deterrent measure.

AP contributed to this report.

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