Israel destroys house of Palestinian charged with killing soldier

EL AMARI REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank, Dec 15 - Israeli forces on Saturday demolished the family home of a Palestinian charged with killing an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank, the military and witnesses said.

Israel says Islam Abu Humaid, 32, threw a 40 pound (18 kg) marble plate from a rooftop, killing an Israeli special forces sergeant, Ronen Lubarsky, 20, during a May arrest raid in El Amari refugee camp in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

Israeli forces arrived at the El Amari camp before dawn on Saturday, sealed off the four-storey Abu Humaid house and destroyed it, the military said in a statement.

The Abu Humaid family home has been destroyed before and rebuilt. Two other Abu Humaid sons are in Israeli custody, charged with the killings of five Israelis, and another two face lengthy incarceration for serious security offences.

A sixth Abu Humaid son was killed by Israeli forces in 1994 after himself being involved in a deadly ambush against an Israeli intelligence officer in the West Bank.

According to the indictment against him, Islam Abu Humaid told interrogators that he wanted to avenge the injury of one of his brothers in a previous Israeli army raid.

"What can we do? This is an enemy who thinks that by doing such actions they will terrorise us and make us fear them," said Islam's mother, Latifa Abu Humaid.

"On the contrary, our animosity becomes stronger, and with it our perseverance and strength."

Israeli rights groups have criticised family-home demolitions of Palestinian attackers as acts of vengeance and collective punishment.

Israel’s Supreme Court has largely upheld the demolition policy. Israeli officials have termed it both punitive and a deterrence to potential attackers.

"The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) will continue operating in order to thwart terror and maintain security in the area," the military said.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the demolition.

Tensions flared this week in the West Bank with a string of Palestinian attacks that killed an Israeli baby and two Israeli soldiers and Israeli forces shot dead four suspected Palestinian assailants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that in response to the attacks, slated demolitions would be sped up.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014.