ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 146

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IDF razes West Bank home of terrorist who killed Israeli brothers in Huwara

Military says clashes broke out near residence of Abdel Fattah Kharousha, who was behind February shooting attack, in Askar refugee camp near Nablus

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

The Israeli military demolishes the home of Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, who killed two Israeli brothers in Huwara in Feburary, in the Askar refugee camp near Nablus, August 8, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
The Israeli military demolishes the home of Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, who killed two Israeli brothers in Huwara in Feburary, in the Askar refugee camp near Nablus, August 8, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces entered a Palestinian refugee camp near Nablus early Tuesday morning and demolished the home of a Hamas terrorist who killed two Israeli brothers in an attack earlier this year, the military said.

The IDF said that clashes broke out in the Askar refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus, during the operation to demolish the home of Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, a member of the Hamas terror group.

On February 26, Kharousha, 49, shot and killed Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, as they drove through the West Bank town of Huwara.

Kharousha fled the scene and was killed during an Israeli raid in Jenin on March 7.

Kharousha’s home in Nablus has been slated for demolition for several months, along with that of his son, who has been indicted for helping plan the attack.

The military published video of army engineers drilling in the house to place explosives, before a large blast was seen that blew out the top floor of the three-story building.

The IDF said that Palestinian gunmen opened fire and hurled explosives toward the troops, and other rioters hurled stones and set fire to tires amid the operation. Soldiers responded with riot dispersal means, the IDF said, adding that no troops were hurt.

Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks as well as their accomplices as a matter of policy. The efficacy of the policy has been hotly debated even within the Israeli security establishment, while human rights activists denounce the practice as unjust collective punishment.

The demolition process generally takes several months as preparations for the razing are made and the order makes its way through the courts. Security forces often wait for an optimal time to enter Palestinian cities or neighborhoods for the operation.

Palestinians inspect the rubble of the home of Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha who killed two Israeli brothers at a terror attack in Huwara, after it was demolished by Israeli security forces, in the Askar refugee camp near Nablus, August 8, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

According to the Israeli Hamoked rights group, other members of Kharousha’s family, who apparently were uninvolved in the terror attack, still lived in the home until its demolition.

“While most families file petitions to the High Court against these collective punishments, the Kharousha family declined to petition, as they have no faith the Court will give them any relief,” HaMoked’s executive director, Jessica Montell, told The Times of Israel.

Kharousha’s sons Khaled and Muhammed Kharousha were detained on March 7 during a raid on Nablus at the same time as the raid on Jenin, during which their father was killed.

Brothers Hallel (left) and Yagel Yaniv, who were killed in a terror attack in the West Bank town of Huwara on February 26, 2023. (Courtesy)

Indictments were filed against the pair in May, charging them with intentionally causing death — the military court’s equivalent of murder — and weapons offenses.

The pair helped their father in planning the attack, and gathered intelligence, according to the indictment.

Initially, the sons were supposed to join their father in the attack itself, but in the days before the February 26 shooting, they agreed that the elder Kharousha would carry it out alone, the indictment added.

Only Khaled Kharousha’s home has been slated for demolition. It was unclear why the military had not measured Muhammed Kharousha’s residence too.

The killing of the Yaniv brothers sparked angry reprisals from settlers, who rampaged through Huwara hours after the shooting, setting fire to homes and cars and attacking people in what some have termed a pogrom.

Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, 49, accused of carrying out the deadly terror attack in Huwara, seen wearing Hamas paraphernalia. Kharousha was killed in an IDF raid on March 7, 2023. (Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Violence has surged across the West Bank over the past year and a half, with a rise in Palestinian shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and troops, near-nightly arrest raids by the military, and an uptick in attacks by extremist Jewish settlers against Palestinians.

Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank have left 26 people dead and several others seriously wounded since the beginning of the year. According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 168 West Bank Palestinians have also been killed during the same period — most of them during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances, including by armed Israeli settlers.

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