Israel demolishes West Bank home of alleged Palestinian attacker

Qaseem Barghouti is accused of involvement in a deadly bombing that killed a settler last August

A view shows the family house of Palestinian assailant Qassam Barghouti after it was partially demolished by Israeli forces in the village of Kobar, near Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on May 11, 2020. Israeli forces demolished the home of a Palestinian accused of involvement in a bomb attack last year that killed an Israeli teenager in the occupied West Bank. The explosion on August 23, 2019, near a spring close to the Jewish settlement of Dolev, killed 17-year-old Rina Shnerb and wounded her father and brother. / AFP / ABBAS MOMANI
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Israel's military on Monday demolished the family home of a Palestinian man accused of being behind a deadly explosion in the occupied West Bank last year.

Qassem Barghouti, 22, was one of three people arrested by Israeli authorities over the attack in August, which killed 17-year-old Israeli Rina Shnerb and wounded her father and brother as they were hiking to a spring near the settlement of Dolev.

A large army force raided the village of Kobar near Ramallah overnight and demolished the first floor of the Barghouti home with a bulldozer and destroyed trees around it, witnesses told the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

They said the soldiers fired rubber bullets and tear gas at residents protesting against the demolition. The Palestinian Red Crescent said one person was hit in the head by a gas canister.

The Israeli military said only that the crowd was dispersed after dozens of Palestinians burned tyres and hurled rocks and firebombs toward its troops.

Israel said demolishing the family homes of alleged militants deters violence. Critics said the tactic amounts to collective punishment.

Wafa said the army informed the Barghouti family on February 11 of its intention to demolish their home. The demolition was carried out after Israel's high court rejected the family’s petitions against the order.

“Tonight, we settled a score with the despicable terrorist who took part in the murder of our dear Rina Shnerb. Destroying homes is an important tool in deterrence against terrorists,” said Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett. “He who hurts us, we will harm him back. Jewish blood will not be spilled in vain.”

Officials blamed the attack on the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PFLP, a leftist political party that has an armed wing. Israel, the US and the European Union consider it a terrorist group because of high-profile attacks going back decades, including plane hijackings and the assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister in 2001.

Israel's Shin Bet security service launched a manhunt after the August 23 bombing. Besides Mr Barghouti, they arrested Samer Arbeed, 44, who is accused of plotting the attack, and Walid Hanatsheh, 51, said to be a senior commander in the PLFP's armed wing.

Lawyers for the three men accused Shin Bet of torturing their clients. Mr Barghouti's lawyer said his client was bitten in his genitals by a security dog when authorities raided his home to arrest him.