IDF Razes Home of 2nd Gunman Accused of Killing Soldier in West Bank Last Year
On Thursday morning, amid an uptick in violence in the region, Israeli troops entered the northern West Bank city of Nablus to demolish the residence of a Palestinian gunman suspected of killing an Israeli soldier the previous year.
The military claims that on October 11, 2022, Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch of the Givati infantry brigade’s reconnaissance unit was killed when Osama Taweel and Abdel Kamel Jouri, members of the Nablus-based Lion’s Den terror group, opened fire on him. The assault happened as Baruch was protecting a settlers’ protest march at an intersection close to the settlement of Shavei Shomron, outside of Nablus.
A third cell member who allegedly assisted in the attack planning, Hussam Bassam Isleem, was assassinated in a raid on Nablus a week after Taweel and Jouri were detained on February 13.
The Israel Defence Forces issued a brief statement early on Thursday morning, referring to Jouri, saying they were “operating in the city of Nablus to destroy the home of one of the terrorists who carried out the attack that killed Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch.”
As the military entered Nablus to destroy the home of Taweel, the other alleged attacker in the killing, there were clashes last week in which one Palestinian was killed.
Early on Thursday, there were more clashes in the area, and the Palestinian Red Crescent reported treating 33 patients, mostly due to tear gas inhalation.
According to the IDF, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on the military personnel while other gunmen threw explosive devices that slightly damaged a military vehicle. Later, the IDF claimed that additional rioters had thrown stones and set tires on fire nearby.
According to the military, “the troops responded with riot dispersal means,” adding that no soldiers were hurt.
Israel regularly destroys the homes of Palestinians suspected of carrying out deadly terrorist attacks as a matter of policy, praising the tactic as a deterrent. Human rights advocates criticize the practice as unfair collective punishment, and even within Israel’s security establishment, there is a heated debate about the policy’s effectiveness.
The IDF measured Isleem’s house, the third member of the cell, in May in preparation for a potential demolition.
The IDF has conducted numerous raids in Nablus over the past year, and the destruction of the home on Thursday coincided with a spike in West Bank violence.
On Tuesday, gunmen with ties to Hamas killed four Israelis and injured another four in the central West Bank. An armed Israeli civilian shot one of the terrorists dead at the scene; the other fled and was killed by special forces two hours later.
Following yet another deadly Palestinian shooting attack, the rampages appeared to be a grim repetition of an incident some have referred to as a “pogrom” earlier this year.
Late on Wednesday, a car carrying three Palestinian gunmen was struck by an IDF drone after they had just started shooting at a checkpoint in the northern West Bank.
The IDF reported that all three of them were killed in the attack, which marked the first targeted killings in the West Bank since 2006. Earlier this week, a military raid in the northern West Bank city of Jenin saw the use of attack helicopters for the first time in about 20 years.
Palestinian armed men have targeted military personnel conducting arrest raids, military outposts, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads frequently over the past year, especially in the northern West Bank.
The military has been conducting almost nightly raids in the West Bank amid a string of deadly Palestinian terror attacks, which has increased tensions between Israel and the Palestinians over the past 18 months.
24 people have died as a result of Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank since the year’s beginning, including the victims from Tuesday — Nachman Mordoff, 17, Elisha Anteman, 17, Harel Masood, 21, and Ofer Fayerman, 64.
132 Palestinians from the West Bank have died during that time, the majority of them in clashes with security personnel or while carrying out attacks, though some were innocent bystanders and others killed in mysterious circumstances.