A Palestinian Authority police cadet was shot dead in clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli troops during the demolition of a terrorist’s home in the northern West Bank city of Jenin in the predawn hours of Thursday morning, according to Palestinian officials.
It was not immediately clear why the cadet, 19-year-old Yazan Abu Tabikh, was shot, if he was taking part in the riots or was hit in the crossfire. The Israel Defense Forces said it was investigating the matter.
Abu Tabikh was the second Palestinian killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank in the past two days, raising concerns in the military that the already precarious security situation in the area would escalate further toward greater violence.
In a separate incident, Israeli troops shot another Palestinian police officer, Tareq Badwan, moderately injuring him during the riots near the demolition site under what IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said were unclear circumstances.
إصابة الرقيب أول طارق بدوان من أفراد الشرطه الخاصه الفلسطينيه اصابه خطره وهو الان في العنايه المكثفه في مواجهات مدينة جنين هذه الليله وهو من سكان مدينة قلقيليه pic.twitter.com/4nD9T5WN26
— حركة فتح (@fatehorg) February 6, 2020
In the predawn hours of Thursday morning, IDF soldiers — assisted by Border Police and the Shin Bet — entered Jenin in order to again raze the home of Ahmed Kunba who was charged with assisting in a terrorist shooting attack that killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach in 2018. The military first demolished the building in 2018, but it had since been rebuilt.
Zilberman said that Israeli troops also came under sniper fire during the demolition.
According to the spokesman, the military anticipated that troops may come under fire during the demolition from a Palestinian sniper cell that had been shooting at Israeli soldiers in Jenin recently. As a result, a team of Israeli snipers was brought along to the operation.
When Israeli troops saw that shots had indeed been fired at them, the snipers returned fire, Zilberman said.
“Our snipers hit that cell,” he said.
During the demolition, which was completed successfully, rioting also broke out nearby. IDF troops responded with live fire and less-lethal riot dispersal weapons, the military said.
According to the official PA news outlet Wafa, six other Palestinians were injured by Israeli fire during the clashes.
No Israeli soldiers were injured.
The spokesman said it was not immediately clear why the Palestinian police officer and cadet were shot, but that the military was investigating the incident.
The ever-tense Israeli-Palestinian Authority security cooperation has been especially strained following the release of US President Donald Trump’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which the PA roundly rejected as unfairly favoring Israel.
The clashes in Jenin also came a day after Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager as he was throwing a Molotov cocktail at them during a riot in the West Bank city of Hebron, further raising tensions in the region.
“We are dealing with a week that has been relatively violent,” Zilberman said, citing increased riots, resistance to arrests and general friction in the West Bank. In addition, at least 12 soldiers were injured in a car-ramming in Jerusalem in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Asked why the IDF decided to go ahead with a home demolition despite the fraught situation in the area, as it is the type of operation that could easily be postponed for more preferable timing, Zilberman rejected the criticism.
“You can say that about any operation,” he said.
Shevach, a father of six, was murdered by Ahmad Nassar Jarrar on January 9 in a drive-by shooting, as he traveled down the highway outside the Havat Gilad illegal outpost where he lived.
Kunba was charged with attempted murder in 2018 for his alleged role in the attack.
He was also accused of plotting and carrying out several other security offenses along with Jarrar. According to the charge sheet, among several attempted attacks against Israeli civilians or soldiers, the two opened fire on a bus, and unsuccessfully attempted to infiltrate the settlement of Dotan.
Jarrar escaped after the attack, but was killed in a shootout with IDF troops outside Jenin less than a month later.
Israel made frequent use of home demolitions until 2005, when the government decided to stop employing the measure. However, in 2014, it was brought back into use.
There is a dispute among security analysts and officials over the utility of home demolitions in combating terrorism, with some seeing it as an effective deterrent against terror attacks and others as an ineffective form of collective punishment.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.