In a show of force, 1,200 Israeli security forces stormed a Palestinian refugee camp in East Jerusalem Wednesday and demolished the family home of a Hamas militant who carried out a terrorist attack last year that killed two Israelis.
Israeli military engineers, accompanied by bulldozers and hundreds of Israeli police troops, blew up the home of Ibrahim al-Akari in the Shuafat refugee camp Wednesday morning, police said in a statement. Al-Akari drove his car into a crowd of people in Jerusalem last November, killing an Israeli Border Police officer and a civilian, before being shot and killed by Israeli police.
According to Haaretz, clashes broke out between Palestinian residents of the camp and Israeli troops shortly after the operation took place. Police said they were prepared to respond to any unrest, "with determination and aggressively toward anyone, minor or adult, who violates the peace or tries to attack the forces operating [in the area], and will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law."
Shuafat, one of the poorest areas of East Jerusalem and cut off by the Israeli wall, is a frequent flashpoint between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.
Video from inside the camp shows Israeli soldiers counting down "three, two, one" in Hebrew before they blow up the home.
Israel routinely demolishes the family homes of those who are convicted or suspected of carrying out terror attacks, even if the militant has already been killed or arrested. The controversial practice has been frequently criticized by human rights groups, who say it amounts to collective punishment and is a violation of international law.
Wednesday's operation was unusual in that it took place during the day and involved such a massive deployment of troops. It was also accompanied by a series of overnight raids throughout the West Bank, reported the Times of Israel, in which Israeli security forces arrested 28 Palestinians suspected of throwing rocks or carrying out attacks.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in October that Israel would continue the practice of destroying the homes of militant's families, which he said is is an effective tool to deter terrorist attacks.
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