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Israel blows up West Bank house of Palestinian inmate accused of shooting soldiers

Palestinians gather outside a building that belonged to Muntasir Shalabi after it was demolished by Israeli forces in the village of Turmus Ayya near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on July 8, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The Israeli military has destroyed the family home of a Palestinian-American after accusing him of involvement in a shooting incident, which allegedly took place in the occupied West Bank in May.

Palestinian media quoting sources reported on Thursday that Israeli soldiers leveled the family home of Muntasir Shalabi in Turmus Ayya village northeast of Ramallah in a controlled explosion overnight.

Several people were injured as about 200 Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli troops and tried to prevent them from reaching the site and carrying out the demolition.

Shalabi's wife, Sanaa, who lived with three of their children, said troops arrived at 1 a.m. to place explosives around her home. She said the demolition lasted through the night.

“This is our life. What happened to us is normal. We were prepared for it,” she said, calling her husband a “hero.”

"They want to demoralize us, but we are steadfast. This is the situation of the entire Palestinian people," she said.

Shalabi was indicted in an Israeli military court and imprisoned over his alleged involvement in an attack in May near the city of Nablus.

The latest destruction took place despite Washington apparently asking for the move to be stopped.

In a statement after the home was destroyed, the US Embassy in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds called on "all parties to refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions".

"This certainly includes the punitive demolition of Palestinian homes," a spokesperson said. "As we stated numerous times, the home of an entire family should not be demolished for the actions of one individual."

 Palestinians and international rights groups strongly condemn the policy of demolition as collective punishment.

Reacting to the developments, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas denounced the destruction of Shalabi’s house as “a barbaric and terrorist act practiced by criminal gangs.”

Hazem Qasem, a Hamas spokesman, said that such ongoing demolition policy confirms Israel’s stupidity and its failure to stop the Palestinian people from continuing their uprising and struggle against the occupying regime.

Israeli authorities usually demolish Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank, claiming that the structures have been built without permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain.

They also sometimes order Palestinian owners to demolish their own homes or pay the demolition costs to the municipality if they do not.

The latest surge in demolition has drawn widespread condemnation against the Israeli regime for exploiting the coronavirus crisis to press ahead with its campaign of razing Palestinian homes.

Following the signing of normalization agreements with Israel by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, there has been a rapid increase in Tel Aviv's demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem al-Quds.

The rise is coupled with an increase in deportation of Palestinians from Jerusalem al-Quds, their expulsion from al-Aqsa Mosque and daily storming of the compound by extremist Israeli settlers.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds. 

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

Tensions, meanwhile, remain high in Jerusalem al-Quds, the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip following the 11-day Israeli aggression in May. 

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