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Israeli forces detain 5 relatives of Palestinian killed carrying out deadly truck attack

Jan. 8, 2017 8:41 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 9, 2017 2:32 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces raided homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir on Sunday and detained at least five relatives of Fadi Ahmad Hamdan al-Qunbar, a Palestinian who was killed earlier in the day after carrying out a deadly vehicular attack.

Al-Qunbar, 28, was killed by Israeli forces and armed civilians after he drove his truck into a group of soldiers in the illegal settlement of East Talpiyyot, killing four Israeli soldiers and wounding 13 others.

Al-Qunbar’s sister Shadia told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the Palestinian’s home, as well as his brothers’ and parents’ houses, holding the family members for more than three hours.

She said that Israeli forces had detained al-Qunbar’s wife Tahani, his parents Ahmad and Minwa, and two of his brothers, Muhammad and Munther.

Shadia noted that Israeli forces initially detained Munther al-Qunbar’s wife because her husband was not at home.

Israeli troops ransacked family’s homes and interrogated al-Qunbar’s 12 sisters in their courtyard before summoning them for further interrogation at the Russian compound police station in Jerusalem, Shadia added.

Al-Qunbar’s sister expressed surprise at the actions of her brother, a father of four, emphasizing that he had never been affiliated with a political party, and claiming that he had never been detained by Israel -- although some media reports indicated that he had previously spent time in Israeli custody.

“We don’t know what happened with Fadi. He called his wife (before the attack) and told her to prepare lunch,” Shadia said, adding that the family only found out about al-Qunbar’s involvement upon seeing footage of his truck running over soldiers.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri confirmed in a statement on Sunday evening that Israeli forces had raided al-Qunbar’s home and detained nine “suspects,” including five of his relatives.

Al-Samri added that Israeli police would remain heavily deployed in Jabal al-Mukabbir “until further notice.”

Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli security cabinet had convened in the wake of the attack and decided to withhold his body, reject family reunification requests of some of his relatives in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, and carry out a punitive demolition on al-Qunbar’s home as soon as possible.

Since a wave of unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, Israel has come under harsh condemnation for its response to attacks, which rights groups have said amounted to “collective punishment” and represents a clear violation of international law.

The Israeli security cabinet also decided to apply its controversial policy of administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges -- to suspected Islamic State sympathizers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the attack as an “unprovoked terrorist attack,” linking it to similar vehicular attacks in Europe claimed by the Islamic State group.

While Israeli officials have often reiterated that Palestinian attacks on Israelis are due mainly to anti-Semitic sentiment, many Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.

Meanwhile, a few hours after the attack, Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, reported that Israeli settlers had damaged a number of Palestinian cars driving between Nablus and Qalqiliya in the northern occupied West Bank.

Daghlas told Ma'an that tens of Israeli settlers participated in an attack against 20 Palestinian civilians’ vehicles near the Qalqiliya-area village of Azzun, adding that while no injuries were reported, Palestinians were urged to exert caution while driving near settlements.

Fadi al-Qunbar

Israeli forces raiding the neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir following the attack carried out by al-Qunbar

The home of a relative of al-Qunbar following raids by Israeli forces

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