Israel builds wall after Gaza tunnel trauma
KOBAR, Aug 16, (Agencies): Israeli forces demolished the home on Wednesday of a Palestinian who fatally stabbed three Israelis in a nearby settlement as tensions soared last month over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound. The military confirmed the demolition in the village of Kobar in the occupied West Bank. Residents said that army vehicles and bulldozers entered the area north of Ramallah at around 3:00 am (0000 GMT) and surrounded the two-storey house, one floor of which was still under construction. Clashes broke out in the area between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, 12 people were wounded by rubber bullets. Video appeared to show a Palestinian news cameraman, Mohammed Radi, being hit in the nose with a rubber bullet. It seemed from the video that clashes were not taking place at that time and location.
Radi was later treated at a hospital in Ramallah. Israel’s army said it was looking into the “claim”. “During overnight activity in the village of Kobar, a riot of about 100 Palestinians erupted,” an army spokeswoman said. “During the riot, the protesters ignited tyres and hurled rocks toward (Israeli) soldiers.
The forces used crowd control measures to disperse the riot.” It added that the “claim that a Palestinian journalist was lightly injured by rubber bullets is currently being reviewed.” In recent weeks, Israeli authorities also arrested the father, mother and three brothers of the 19-year-old attacker, Omar al-Abed, according to villagers.
The family members are suspected of having known of Abed’s plans to carry out the attack in the nearby Israeli settlement of Neve Tsuf, also known as Halamish, and of failing to prevent it, Israeli media reported. The Israeli army said the assailant had spoken of Al-Aqsa and of dying as a martyr in a Facebook post. He was shot while carrying out the attack and later arrested. The July 21 attack came with tensions high over the highly sensitive mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount. Violence erupted in and around the compound last month after three Arab Israelis shot dead two policemen on July 14 before being killed by security forces.
Israel responded to that attack by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the holy site, used as a staging point for the attack. For nearly two weeks, worshippers refused to submit to the checks and held mass prayers in surrounding streets. Ensuing protests and clashes left seven Palestinians dead and the stabbings of the Israelis at the settlement was carried out at the height of the tensions. The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors. The Jerusalem holy site, which includes the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, is the third-holiest in Islam and the most sacred for Jews. Central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the compound is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.
Palestinians fear Israel will gradually seek to assert further control over it, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly he is committed to the status quo. Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinian attackers, calling it a deterrent against future violence. However, human rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment, with family members forced to suffer for the acts of relatives.