The Israeli army killed two Palestinians in a West Bank raid on Monday as it demolished the homes of two Palestinians accused of killing an Israeli soldier, Palestinian officials said.
The Palestinian health ministry announced the deaths of “Mohammad Samer Hoshieh, 22, after being shot in the chest, and Fuad Mohammad Abed, 25, after being shot in the abdomen and thigh” during a raid by the Israeli army near Jenin.
Israeli soldiers had entered the village of Kafr Dan “in order to demolish the residences of the assailants who were involved in the shooting adjacent to the Gilboa (Jalame) Crossing, in which Major Bar Falah was killed,” Israel’s military said.
Clouds of smoke engulfed the small village as two houses were levelled with explosives shortly after sunrise on Monday.
The army later said “a violent riot was instigated” when troops entered the village.
“Rioters burned tyres, shot live fire and hurled rocks, Molotov cocktails and explosive devices at the forces, who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire,” the statement said. “Hits were identified,” it added.
Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that 18 others were arrested by the Israeli army in overnight raids across the West Bank.
Falah, the Israeli major, was killed in September 2022 during clashes with Palestinian gunmen at the Gilboa checkpoint between Israel and the occupied West Bank.
After he was killed, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades — the armed wing of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’ Fatah party — claimed responsibility.
Ahmed Abed, 23, and Abdul Rahman Subhi Abed, 22, whose family homes were demolished Monday, were also killed in the September clashes in which Falah died.
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Israel regularly destroys the homes of individuals it blames for attacks on Israelis.
Human rights activists say Israel’s policy of demolishing the homes of suspected attackers amounts to collective punishment, as it can render non-combatants, including children, homeless.
But Israel says the practice is effective in deterring some Palestinians from carrying out attacks.
The two deaths are the first in the West Bank for 2023.
According to United Nations data, 2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians since the 2002-2005 uprising, known as the Second Intifada, with at least 150 Palestinians and 26 Israelis killed across Israel and the West Bank, including Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
The new government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the most right-wing in Israel’s history, has sparked fears of a military escalation in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967.
Two of Netanyahu’s far-right coalition partners, sworn in on Thursday with the rest of the new government, will take charge of critical powers in relation to Palestinians in the West Bank.
Bezalel Smotrich will take charge of Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank, and Itamar Ben-Gvir is the new national security minister with powers over border police, which also operates in the territory.
Both have a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians.