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Israel razes home of Palestinian teen accused of killing settler

Demolition of 15-year-old's house in Yatta comes after Israeli army besieged same village following shooting in Tel Aviv earlier this week
Israeli soldier keeps watch as Palestinians sit after the army entered Yatta earlier this week (AFP)

Israel's army demolished on Saturday the West Bank home of a Palestinian teenager accused of killing an Israeli settler earlier this year, a military spokesman said.

The demolition took place in Yatta, which is also the hometown of two Palestinian cousins who killed four Israelis in Tel Aviv on Wednesday in the deadliest attack in a months-long wave of violence.

The village, in the Hebron district of the West Bank where dozens of villages have been besieged since last October, is currently besieged after Israeli security forces closed off all of the entrances within 24 hours of the shooting in Tel Aviv, which also wounded 16.

Residents in the village told Middle East Eye on Friday that the siege was accompanied by night-time house raids and the detention of dozens of young men.

Yatta's mayor said the blockade was one of the worst in the West Bank in months and had prevented school children from taking final exams. 

Village resident Murad Ideis, 15, was arrested in January in a raid on his family's home and charged with the murder of Dafna Meir, a 38-year-old nurse and mother of six.

Meir's killing provoked fierce reaction among Israelis and prompted a personal vow from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the assailant's house would be razed.

Israel regularly demolishes the homes of alleged attackers in what it describes as a deterrent. Rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment, with families forced to suffer for the acts of relatives.

Simon Reynolds, legal advocacy coordinator at Bethlehem-based Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, told MEE this week that the siege of Yatta may be prosecutable as a war crime.

“Israel’s application of sanctions against the entire population of Yatta in response to acts allegedly conducted by two residents is not only morally reprehensible, but also entirely unlawful,” Reynolds said.

“The prohibition on collective punishment is strict and unequivocal under international humanitarian law.”

MEE contacted an Israeli security forces spokesperson on Friday for a response to Reynolds' comments but had not received any by the time of publication.

The army said Saturday's demolition was carried out without incident, adding that it had also made preparations for the destruction of the homes of both of the Tel Aviv gunmen.

Violence since October has killed at least 207 Palestinians, 32 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese.

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