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Israeli forces demolish Nablus home of shooting attack 'mastermind'

Oct. 11, 2016 10:59 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 11, 2016 6:09 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces raided the city of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank early Tuesday morning and demolished the home of Amjad Aliwi, who Israeli intelligence accused of being one of the masterminds of a shooting attack on Oct. 1, 2015, which left two Israeli settlers dead.

Local sources told Ma'an that dozens of Israeli soldiers stormed a three story building in the Khallat al-Eiman neighborhood in southern Nablus, where Aliwi’s family lived.

Aliwi was one of six men accused in the deadly drive-by shooting, and was sentenced by an Israeli court to two life sentences with an additional 30 years in prison in June.

Aliwi was sentenced for his involvement in a Hamas military unit allegedly responsible for the incident, when a married Israeli couple was shot and killed near the illegal Israeli settlement of Itamar near Nablus.

Their four children, aged between four months and nine years, were found unharmed in the back of the car.

The Israeli Supreme Court approved the decision to demolish Aliwi's family home last month, despite the fact that the family had previously filed three appeals against the decision, as they stood to be left homeless by the demolition.

According to witnesses of Tuesday's demolition, soldiers forcibly moved the family members from their apartment to one of the neighbors' apartments, and detained them there for several hours, during which time they demolished Aliwi’s apartment.

Witnesses added that Israeli forces demolished the home manually, since an explosion would have also devastated other apartments in the building. Israeli forces often use explosive devices in many punitive home demolitions.

At the time of the demolition, clashes broke out in the neighborhood between Israeli forces and local youth.

Locals said the clashes continued for several hours and that ten young men were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, while several others suffered from tear gas inhalation.

Locals added that one of the injured young men was evacuated to Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus.

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports regarding the demolition and clashes.

The attack Aliwi was accused of resulted in widespread rioting by Israeli settlers and numerous attacks on Palestinian communities and their properties.

A massive manhunt for the gunmen -- during which the freedom of movement for Nablus residents was severely restricted and scores of Palestinians were detained as well as shot and injured in overnight raids -- culminated in five initial suspects, not including Aliwi, being detained by Israel’s internal security agency the Shin Bet, identified as Raeb Ahmed Aliwi, Yahya al-Hajj Hamad, Samir Qoussa, Karam al-Masri, and Zeid Amir.

The Shin Bet said that the five Palestinians had "admitted" to the crime, as well to two other shootings that had not resulted in casualties.

The home of Salah Aliwi, Amjad's brother, was also raided and ransacked during the raids in 2015, when Israeli forces ordered his family to tell Aliwi to turn himself in.

Israeli forces have also since destroyed the home Zeid Amir’s family.

Since a wave of violence spread across the occupied Palestinian terriotory last year, marked by a number of alleged, attempted, and actual small-scale attacks committed by Palestinians on Israeli targets, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in an effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals.

The move came despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks.

While families who receive demolition orders are given the opportunity to appeal the measures, Israel’s High Court of Justice typically rejects such appeals, according to Israeli watchdog Hamoked.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem has meanwhile condemned the practice as “court-sanctioned revenge” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment and illegal under international law.

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