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Israeli military court sentences Palestinian American over occupied West Bank attack

Muntasir Shalabi's sentencing caps a case that brought a rare rebuke from the US over the demolition of his family home
Palestinians gather outside a building that belonged to Muntasir Shalabi after it was demolished by Israeli forces in the village of Turmus Ayya in the occupied West Bank (Reuters/File photo)

An Israeli military court handed down two life sentences on Wednesday to a Palestinian man with US citizenship for the killing of an Israeli in a drive-by shooting in the occupied West Bank last year.

Muntasir Shalabi received one life sentence for the murder of 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta and another for the attempted murder of Guetta's friends who were also injured in the attack near a Nablus-area checkpoint.

"The defendant will serve a total of two life sentences for this case," the three-judge panel of the military court ruled. Shalabi was also fined $809,000 for the attack.

The 44-year-old was convicted in August of "intentional manslaughter - equivalent to the offence of murder" after he opened fire at passengers waiting at a bus stop at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank in May 2021.

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He reportedly fled the scene of the attack and remained on the run in the occupied West Bank for a number of days.

He was later arrested by Israeli forces in a raid on a building in the village of Silwad, near Ramallah.

On 8 July, Israeli forces demolished the home of Shalabi's estranged wife, leaving her and their three children homeless.

Israel routinely demolishes the homes of the families of Palestinians who have staged attacks on Israelis, a procedure condemned by many as collective punishment.

The US embassy in Jerusalem formally denounced Israel's demolition of Shalabi's wife's home, in a rare rebuke.

US criticism of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians was rare during the presidency of Donald Trump, who embraced Israel's settlements – illegal under international law – in the West Bank. US President Joe Biden has sought to rebuild relations with the Palestinians.

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