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Israeli forces demolish West Bank home of Tel Aviv shooter

Activists say demolition policy amounts to collective punishment

By AFP - May 24,2023 - Last updated at May 24,2023

This photo shows the house of Palestinian fighter Mutaz Khawaja after it was razed by Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Nilin on Tuesday (AFP photo)

NILIN, Palestinian Territories — Israeli forces on Tuesday demolished the West Bank home of a Palestinian fighter who was killed after allegedly carrying out a deadly shooting in the heart of Tel Aviv in March.

"Forces of the army and the border police destroyed the home in the village of Nilin of the terrorist Mutaz Khawaja, who carried out a shooting attack on March 9, 2023 in Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv," an army statement said.

Khawaja, 23, was a member of the Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group which rules Gaza.

He was shot dead by Israeli forces after the attack, which killed one Israeli and wounded two more.

His home village lies close to the Green Line which separates Israel from the occupied West Bank, and barely 20 kilometres from Tel Aviv.

Nilin Mayor Yusef Khawaja said Israeli forces made all residents of the four-storey apartment block leave their homes before demolishing the shooter's first floor flat at dawn.

The army released video of troops setting explosive charges before blowing up the apartment.

Large portraits of Khawaja had been draped over the side of the building, commemorating him as a “martyr”, an AFP photographer reported.

Forces clashed with “rioters” during the operation, the army said. The mayor said three people were injured.

Israel, which has occupied the West Bank since 1967, routinely demolishes the homes of individuals it blames for deadly attacks on Israelis.

Human rights activists say the policy amounts to collective punishment, as it can render non-combatants, including children, homeless.

Khawaja’s father Salah was defiant after the Israeli operation. “This hateful act will only strengthen our love for the homeland... Jerusalem and the faith (Islam), and, with God’s help, our roots will remain anchored here,” he told AFP.

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