The demolition of Montaser Shalabi’s home has aroused criticism from the United States because rights groups called the policy a collective punishment.
The Israeli army demolished the home of a Palestinian-American man accused of participating in a shooting in the occupied West Bank in May last year, killing one Israeli and injuring two others.
Montaser Shalabi was prosecuted by the Israeli military court for an attack near the city of Nablus. Student Yehuda Geta was shot and killed in the attack.
The military said that after Chalabi’s family filed an unsuccessful appeal against demolition in an Israeli court, two-story villas in Turmus’ayya, a village where many Palestinian Americans live, were razed to the ground in a controlled explosion on Thursday.
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Israel said that such demolition operations can deter potential Palestinian attackers. Palestinians and rights groups condemned the policy as collective punishment.
Shalabi’s wife Sanaa lives with their three children in Turmus’ayya’s home, and she said she talked to her husband on the phone on Thursday. She described him as a “resistor” and decided to rebuild the house.
“They want to demoralize us, but we are firm. This is the situation of the entire Palestinian people,” she said.
In a statement after the house was destroyed, the US Embassy in Jerusalem called on “all parties not to take unilateral steps that increase tensions and weaken efforts to negotiate a two-State solution” to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“This of course includes punitive demolition of Palestinian houses,” a spokesperson said.
“As we have said many times, the entire family’s house should not be demolished because of one person’s behavior.”
During Donald Trump’s presidency, the United States rarely criticized Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians. He accepted Israeli settlements in the West Bank-considered illegal settlements by many countries. US President Joe Biden seeks to rebuild relations with the Palestinians.
An official in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: “The Prime Minister appreciates and respects the US government. At the same time, its actions are fully consistent with the security considerations of the State of Israel and protect the lives of Israeli citizens.”