Israel razes Palestinian homes in the West Bank

The overnight demolitions west of Hebron targeted the homes of two men said to be behind Nov. 19 knife and car-ramming attacks in Tel Aviv

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Israel has destroyed the homes of two Palestinians accused of separate attacks that left five people dead, the army said Tuesday, the latest in a series of punitive demolitions that have drawn criticism from rights groups.

The overnight demolitions west of Hebron targeted the homes of two men said to be behind November 19 knife and car-ramming attacks in Israel’s commercial capital Tel Aviv and at a junction in the occupied West Bank.

Mohammed al-Harub is accused of opening fire at a junction near Israeli settlements in the West Bank then ramming his car into a group of pedestrians. An Israeli, a Palestinian and an American were killed.

The same day, Raid Masalmeh stabbed two Israelis to death at an office building and car park in Tel Aviv.

It was one of the deadliest days for Israelis since a wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks erupted in October.

Harub’s home was in Dayr Samet while Masalmeh’s was in Dura, both west of Hebron in the southern West Bank. The two men have been arrested.

The wave of violence since October has claimed the lives of 27 Israelis, as well as an American and an Eritrean.

In addition, 176 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks but others during clashes and demonstrations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under political pressure to halt the violence, has moved to expedite demolitions of alleged attackers’ homes as a punitive measure.

Human rights groups say the measure amounts to collective punishment, with the suspects’ families forced to suffer for others’ alleged acts.

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