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Israeli forces threaten to revoke Jerusalem IDs of slain Palestinian shooter's family

Oct. 11, 2016 6:08 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 12, 2016 11:54 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces raided a building in the town of al-Ram in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem belonging to the family of a slain Palestinian attacker, amidst an ongoing crackdown on the gunman’s family, town, and surrounding neighborhoods, according to witnesses and Israeli authorities.

The family of Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was killed by Israeli forces after he carried out a drive-by shooting in occupied East Jerusalem Sunday that left two Israelis dead, told Ma'an that Israeli troops stormed the building at 4 a.m. on Tuesday and broke into all four apartments in the building.

The soldiers rounded up all family members in one room "at gunpoint and did not allow them to talk or move," according to witnesses.

Soldiers then searched every room, "damaging the family’s belongings," while other soldiers took photos and measurements of the apartments, seemingly in preparation for an impending punitive demolition of their homes.

The soldiers also threatened to storm the building again if the summoned family members -- including three of Abu Sbeih's brothers and three of his uncles -- did not show up for questioning, although Abu Sbeih’s father maintained that they were not told where or when they should go.

The family also said that Israeli soldiers threatened to revoke their Jerusalem IDs.

Separately, Israeli forces sealed a sweet shop and other stores in the same building belonging to Abu Sbeih’s father.

The family confirmed to Ma’an that the entire building building, stores and apartments included, is registered officially as a property of Abu Sbeih’s father.

The family added that Israeli forces also raided another building which belonged to Misbah Abu Sbeih and his brother Jabir in the Kafr Aqab village in the Jerusalem district, although no family members were present at the time.

Witnesses to the incident told Ma’an that soldiers blew open the main doors to the building.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on the raid of the family apartments in al-Ram, nor on the raid of the building in Kafr Aqab. Both locations were raided on Sunday immediately following the attack, with Israeli soldiers also taking indoor and outdoor measurements of the homes at the time, "using laser techniques and digging holes in the walls," according to the family.

They added that Israeli soldiers removed posters, flags, and photographs of Abu Sbeih which had been hung on the walls in al-Ram at the time, and interrogated youth in the area regarding who had printed the images and where.

Israeli Police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri confirmed in a statement Tuesday morning that Israeli forces had sealed off the sweet shop in al-Ram belonging to the Abu Sbeih family.

Al-Samri claimed in her statement that the shop had “been used for incitement,” saying that "inciting video footage encouraging terrorism was filmed inside the shop."

In addition, she said, flags belonging to the Hamas movement were hanging from the store, making it a “center for encouraging terrorism.”

Tuesday morning’s events came just hours after Israeli police announced plans for massive “security measures” being taken across the Jerusalem district in the wake of the attack, and in preparation of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

Among the measures being taken were arming Israeli “volunteers” with weapons in order to “maintain order and provide protection for Jews,” as well as setting up checkpoints throughout the city in order to prevent Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem from accessing West Jerusalem.

The extensive closures and intensified security announcements came in the wake of a massive detention campaign across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, detaining at least 56 Palestinians in overnight raids, with more than two thirds of the detainees coming from the Jerusalem area.

Israeli authorities have come under repeated criticism for carrying out large scale detention raids, limiting the freedom of mobility of Palestinians, and punitive home demolitions -- what many human rights organizations have called “collective punishment” -- in response to such attacks.

Their actions have been condemned by rights groups, who have said the measures amount to “court-sanctioned revenge,” and represent a clear violation of international law.
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