Israeli soldiers destroyed the West Bank home of a Palestinian accused of taking part in a July shooting attack near Hebron that left a rabbi dead, the army said.
In an operation early Tuesday, troops razed the Hebron-area home of Mohammed Omaireh, accused of driving the car from which Muhammad al-Fakih shot at a passing vehicle, killing Rabbi Miki Mark and wounding his wife and two of his children.
Light clashes broke out outside the home in the West Bank town of Dura during the operation, the army said.
“During the [demolition], a number of violent riots erupted. Rioters rolled burning tires, and hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at the forces,” a military spokesperson said.
“In order to prevent the escalation of violence, forces responded with riot dispersal means, including stun grenades, 0.22 caliber rounds and rubber-coated bullets,” the army said.
According to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, some demonstrators were also detained, though this was not immediately confirmed by the IDF.
The army said IDF troops together with border police officers and Civil Administration personnel took part in the home demolition “in compliance with instructions from the political leadership.”
Israel’s government has recently ramped up a program of home demolitions against Palestinian terrorists and terror suspects, touting the controversial measure as a key deterrent against future attacks.
Human rights groups and some Israeli security officials argue that it is a form of collective punishment, or that it is not an effective deterrent.
Omaireh was arrested on July 4, three days after the Hebron area attack that killed Mark, the director of the Otniel Yeshiva, as he was driving in the southern West Bank with his family.
Mark’s wife Chava was seriously injured as her husband lost control of the vehicle and drove off the road, and two of his teen children were lightly and moderately hurt in the incident.
Omaireh — a member of the Palestinian Preventive Security Services — told Shin Bet officials during questioning that that it was he who drove the car on the night of the attack, but that it was Fakih who had actually fired the shots, according to the security agency.
Fakih was killed by anti-tank fire in a shootout with IDF troops in the West Bank village of Surif, north of Hebron, after a several-week manhunt. Two other members of the cell, all Hamas terrorists according to Israel, were also arrested: Fakih’s brother, Sahir and their cousin Muaz Fakih.
After bulldozing the house where Fakih was hiding out, troops said they found a weapons belt with an improvised hand grenade, a Kalashnikov rifle, and magazines of bullets beside his body.
Forces also stormed adjacent buildings and arrested others suspected of helping to conceal Fakih.