Israel demolishes homes of 4 Palestinians in West Bank - GulfToday

Israel demolishes homes of 4 Palestinians in West Bank


Palestinians look at houses destroyed by the Israeli military in Beit Kahil on Thursday. Associated Press

Israel on Thursday demolished the West Bank homes of four Palestinians, sparking clashes with stone-throwing protesters, the army and a journalist said.

The houses in the village of Beit Kahil near Hebron in the occupied West Bank were home to men who were “part of the squad that carried out the stabbing attack” which killed an off-duty soldier in August, the army said.

Clashes broke out during the demolitions, the army said, with Palestinians hurling “rocks and burnt tyres at troops.”

“In response, troops used riot dispersal means.”

Residents stared at piles of concrete after bulldozers reduced one house to rubble, a photographer said.

After the demolitions one Palestinian died in a car accident at a junction near Hebron.

Palestinian official news agency Wafa said his car was hit by an Israeli military bulldozer, but the army said he drove into the stationary vehicle.

“A Palestinian vehicle deviated off the road and hit the (Israeli military) vehicle, which had stopped on the side of the road,” an army spokeswoman said, without confirming the death.

Wafa named the dead man as Mohammed Al Nawajaa, saying his son was also injured in the incident.

Palestinian protests along the Gaza-Israel border have been cancelled for the third week, organisers said on Thursday, amid declining turnout and fears of a fresh conflict in the Gaza Strip.

A statement by the organising committee said it had decided to postpone this Friday’s marches to “avoid giving an opportunity to the Zionist enemy (Israel)” and due to “the very dangerous security conditions” after a deadly flareup in Gaza earlier this month.

It argued that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was looking for an opportunity to divert attention after being indicted on corruption charges and a new conflict with Gaza could help him do so.

The protests, which began in March 2018 and are backed by Gaza’s rulers Hamas, initially attracted tens of thousands of people weekly, but numbers have declined dramatically.

The rallies were cancelled the two previous weeks after a flare-up between Israel and Islamic Jihad, a Hamas-allied militant group in Gaza.

Israel assassinated a senior Palestinian leader in the strip on Nov.12, sparking a two-day flareup in which 35 Palestinians were killed. No Israelis died.

Since the protests began in March 2018 at least 346 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza, more than half during the border demonstrations.

Protesters are calling for Israel to lift its decade-long blockade of Gaza as well as for a return to their ancestral homes now inside Israel.

Israel has fought three wars with Hamas and allied groups in Gaza since 2008.

On Wednesday, thousands of Palestinian protesters took part in a “day of rage” across the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, with some groups clashing with Israeli forces to protest the US announcement that it no longer believes Israeli settlements violate international law.

Around 2,000 people gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah by midday, where they set ablaze posters of US President Donald Trump as well as Israeli and American flags. Schools, universities and government offices were closed and rallies were being held in other West Bank cities.

“The biased American policy toward Israel, and the American support of the Israeli settlements and the Israeli occupation, leaves us with only one option: To go back to resistance,” Mahmoud Aloul, an official with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, told the crowd in Ramallah.

Demonstrators held signs reading: “Trump to impeachment, (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu to jail, the occupation will go and we will remain on our land.”

At Israeli checkpoints near Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron, dozens of protesters threw stones at Israeli forces who responded with tear gas. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Later in the evening, the Israeli military said it identified two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel.

One was intercepted by an Iron Dome missile battery.


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