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Israel demolishes home of Palestinian who sparked wave of violence

The Halabi family home north of Ramallah was demolished on Friday night amid clashes between soldiers and local residents
Members of the Halabi family stand in the ruins of their demolished home (MEE/Shadi Hatem)

Israeli forces on Friday night stormed the Surda neighbourhood, north of Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank and demolished a house that belongs to the family of a Palestinian who had carried out attacks against Israeli settlers.

Muhannad al-Halabi was killed on 3 October after he stabbed four Israeli settlers, killing two of them, in Jerusalem’s Old City. The 19-year-old was a law student at the University of Jerusalem.

His attack and subsequent death sparked the on-going wave of violence taking place across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Twenty-two Israelis and an American have been killed in Palestinian attacks including stabbings, car rammings and gunfire targeting security forces and civilians since and including Halabi's attack on 3 October. An Eritrean has also been killed.

At the same time, 152 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks.

On Friday Shafiq al-Halabi, father of Muhannad, told Middle East Eye that a large number of Israeli forces stormed his house and closed all entrances and roads leading to it before start the demolition.

The demolished house (MEE/Shadi Hatem)

The Israeli forces prevented Palestinian journalists and ambulances from reaching al-Halabi house, he said.

Witnesses told Middle East Eye that Israeli bulldozers began demolishing the two storey house after midnight. At the same time, amid rain storms and bitterly cold weather, violent clashes broke out between Israeli forces and tens of Palestinian youths who came to the area around the house and clashed with the soldiers.

The Halabi family were initially informed of the decision to demolish their home in October when the Israeli army raided the house, allegedly physically and verbally abused family members, and took measurements of the house.

The house was demolished after the Israeli High Court rejected a petition against the order on Tuesday.

Safiq al-Halabi said his family has been living in a rented house since October.

His wife Suher witnessed her home being demolished and said: “The house is not more important than my son. They can demolish the house to put pressure on us, but they can't stop what Muhannad started. Muhannad didn't die for a house that he lived in as a refugee from Jafa, he died for Jafa the city he belongs to.”

Suher al-Halabi stands in the ruins of her home (MEE/Shadi Hatem)

Israel regularly demolishes the family homes of Palestinians involved in attacks, even if the attacker is killed. Rights groups have condemned house demolitions as being collective punishment.

Over the past week, Israeli forces demolished the family home of Bahaa Alyan in the Jabal Almukaber neighborhood of Jerusalem. Alyan was shot dead on 13 October after allegedly trying to stab an Israeli soldier. The family of Alaa Abu Jamal has also been demolished in the same Jerusalem neighbourhood - Jamal rammed his car into a Jerusalem bus stop on 13 October, got out, and killed a bystander with a meat cleaver. He was subsequently killed by an Israeli security guard.

According to official sources, Israel has demolished 21 Palestinian houses in the last three months, most of them belonging to the families of Palestinians who were involved in attacks on Israelis.