Palestinian widow left homeless by Israeli demolition says her husband's killing hurt more

Dozens of neighbours were forced to evacuate as Israeli forces destroyed home of suspected Hawara attacker

Palestinian family home demolished by Israeli forces

Palestinian family home demolished by Israeli forces
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In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Israeli forces told Abdel Fattah Kharousha's widow to leave her home in Askar refugee camp, east of Nablus in the Israel-occupied West Bank, as they prepared to demolish it.

Israeli troops had placed explosives in and around the top-floor apartment of the three-storey building where Kharousha, 49, had lived with his wife and children before he was killed by Israeli forces on March 7 during a raid on Jenin, a city about 20 kilometres north of Nablus.

Kharousha was suspected of carrying out an attack in the West Bank town of Hawara in February in which two Israeli settlers were shot dead.

The Israeli army posted a video of the explosion on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Despite the loss of her home, Kharousha's widow Umm Khalid said everything “pales in comparison” to the loss of her husband.

“What I've gone through makes every other ordeal seem easier. Alhamdulillah [thank God],” the mother of five told The National hours after the demolition.

Umm Khalid lives with four of her children, two boys in their twenties and two girls in their teens.

“They [Israeli forces] demolished stones. Material things. But they will never demolish our will and determination.”

Palestinian state news agency Wafa said Israeli troops raided Askar camp and surrounded the home for six hours before destroying it.

Dozens more Palestinians, including 20 children, living nearby were forced to evacuate their homes during the demolition, Wafa said.

Armed fighters exchanged fire with Israeli forces during the operation.

The Palestinian Red Crescent's Ahmed Jibril told Wafa that six people were wounded, including one by live ammunition and others by rubber bullets and shrapnel.

Mr Jibril said the Red Crescent also handled 185 cases of suffocation, including a family of five who had to be helped out of their home.

Manar Abu Kushk, who lives next door to Umm Khalid, said the Israeli troops arrived at 1.30am.

“They told us to go out. My kids were sleeping; they woke up terrified. We carried them and brought them down. They told us to lock up the house and leave,” she said, standing in an ash-covered bedroom.

“We came back in the morning. I expected that, at most, the window would be broken. I did not imagine this amount of destruction.”

Israel has a long history of tearing down the family homes of Palestinians suspected of attacks, a tactic that rights groups say is a form of collective punishment and is prohibited under international law.

Abu Mohammad, another resident of Askar camp, said the Israeli action was futile.

“The policy of demolishing homes has been unsuccessful since the British mandate and the [emergence of] the Zionist enemy 75 years ago,” he said, standing amid the rubble of the Kharousha home.

“It was unsuccessful in breaking the determination of the Palestinian people or removing them from their land.”

Abu Mohammad said the destruction caused by the Israeli operation on Tuesday paled in comparison to the Kharousha family's loss of Abdel Fattah.

“There are good people in Nablus city and Askar camp who will help rebuild this home in perfect condition, God willing.”

Abu Mohammad called the Israeli tactics part of a wider “media campaign” to give the impression that the deaths of the two settlers who were killed in Hawara were “avenged”.

The Hawara highway shooting took place on February 26, killing two brothers from the Israeli settlement of Har Bracha. It happened after a deadly raid on Nablus that killed at least 11 people and injured 90 others.

Updated: August 09, 2023, 6:24 AM