The Israeli army on Thursday demolished the home of a Palestinian-American who was convicted of murdering an Israeli citizen in a terror attack in May. The U.S. Embassy denounced the move calling it a “unilateral move that exacerbates tensions.”
Israeli troops placed explosives around Muntasar Shalabi’s house in the West Bank town of Turmus Ayya during the night Tuesday and set off the explosives early Wednesday morning.
About 200 Palestinians threw rocks at the soldiers who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
There were no reports of injuries. While Israel frequently demolishes the homes of Palestinians convicted of attacks on Israelis, this case is different for several reasons.
Like many of the residents of Turmus Aya Shalabi is an American citizen and spends most of the year living in the U.S., not the West Bank. In a statement, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem denounced the demolition, calling on all sides to “refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance a two-state solution,” adding that “this certainly includes the punitive demolition of Palestinian homes.”
The statement said that the home of an entire family should not be demolished for the actions of one individual.
Shalabi’s family had appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court against the demolition, saying that he spent most of the year in the U.S., and only came to the West Bank for a visit every summer. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal.
In addition, Shalabi, a father of seven, is estranged from his wife, and stays in a separate room in the house when he visits. An Israeli human rights group also appealed against the demolition saying that Shalabi suffered from mental health issues and had been prescribed anti-psychotic medications.
The state prosecutor argued that Shalabi still owned the house and had recently renovated it. He also said that it is more important to provide a deterrent against future attacks, than that innocent people would suffer.
Meanwhile, the World Bank said Tuesday that repairing the damage to the Gaza Strip from Israel’s bombing during May’s conflict between Israel and Gaza will cost $485 million over the next two years.