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Israel demolishes home of Palestinian who stabbed three settlers

Rights groups say the practice amounts to collective punishment, with family members forced to suffer for the acts of relatives
A woman checks the remains of the house of a Palestinian man who killed three Jewish settlers (AFP)

Israeli forces demolished the home on Wednesday of a Palestinian who fatally stabbed three Jewish residents of a nearby settlement as tensions soared last month over Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The military confirmed the demolition in the village of Kobar in the occupied West Bank.

Residents said that army vehicles and bulldozers entered the area north of Ramallah around 3am and surrounded the two-storey house, one floor of which was still under construction.

In recent weeks Israeli authorities also arrested the father, mother and three brothers of the 19-year-old attacker, Omar al-Abed, according to villagers.

The family members are suspected of having known of Abed's plans to carry out the attack in the nearby Israeli settlement of Neve Tsuf, also known as Halamish, and of failing to prevent it, Israeli media reported.

The Israeli army said the assailant had spoken of al-Aqsa and of dying as a martyr in a Facebook post.

He was shot while carrying out the attack and later arrested.

The 21 July attack came with tensions high over the highly sensitive mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Violence erupted in and around the compound last month after three Arab Israelis shot dead two policemen on 14 July before being killed by security forces.

Israel responded to the 14 July deadly shootings by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the holy site, used as a staging point for the attack.

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For nearly two weeks, worshippers refused to submit to the checks and held mass prayers in surrounding streets.

Ensuing protests and clashes left seven Palestinians dead.

The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors.

The Jerusalem holy site, which includes the revered al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, is the third-holiest in Islam and the most sacred for Jews.

East Jerusalem has been occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Palestinians fear Israel will gradually seek to assert further control over it, though Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has repeatedly said he is committed to the status quo.

Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinian attackers, calling it a deterrent against future violence.

However, human rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment, with family members forced to suffer for the acts of relatives.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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