Israeli Army Demolishes Home of Palestinian Who Murdered Soldier – After It Was Rebuilt

Palestinian reports say troops entered refugee camp near Ramallah, where youths confronted soldiers

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The demolition of the Abu Hamid home in Ramallah late Wednesday night.
The demolition of the Abu Hamid home in Ramallah late Wednesday night.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The Israeli military demolished for the second time the home of Islam Yousef Abu Hamid, a 32-year-old Palestinian who was convicted of murdering a soldier, Palestinian media outlets reported on Thursday. The family rebuilt the house following a previous demolition last year.

Abu Hamid was convicted of murdering Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky during an Israeli raid in the al-Aamri refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah in May 2018.

According to a statement from the Israeli military, clashes broke with dozens of Palestinians who threw rocks and firebombs at the force who entered the refugee camp, leading it to use riot dispersal methods. During the operation, the statement said, Israeli forces arrested a number of Hamas members.

Palestinian reports said that a number of Palestinians were lightly wounded in the clashes. An eyewitness quoted in the reports said that a large number of IDF soldiers entered the camp, blocked the streets and the alleyways leading to homes, evacuated him and those in nearby homes and then demolished the house.

Latifa Abu Hamid, Islam's mother, told the Palestinian state news agency Wafa that an Israeli officer read them the order to destroy the house a few days earlier, and told her that she can appeal it within a week. The mother clarified that she has no intention to appeal the order, as she does not recognize the Israeli legal system. She added that the house is still under construction, and that work on it is not finished.  

Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas instructed that the house be rebuilt, "which was destroyed again by the bulldozers of the occupation," as he said. Al-Sheikh, an associate of Abbas, added, "We will not break and we will not surrender. Our will is much stronger than their tanks and bulldozers."

In a statement, the Israeli army said it acts "in order to prevent the rebuilding of structures in the place of structures that were previously destroyed, and will continue to do so as part of the overall approach to sources of terror in Judea and Samaria."  

Lubarsky, a member of the elite special forces Duvdevan counter-terrorism unit, was killed when Abu Hamid dropped a heavy stone kitchen countertop on his head from the third floor of a building. The 18-kilo slab fractured Lubrasky’s skull, critically injuring him. He succumbed to his injuries two days later in hospital. Another soldier was also injured.

A military court convicted Abu Hamid of the murder in April and sentenced him to life imprisonment in July. He was also convicted of obstruction of justice, and was ordered to pay 258,000 shekels ($73,000) in compensation to Lubarsky’s family. Following the arrest of his brother, an alleged Hamas terrorist, in January 2018, Abu Hamid decided to take revenge, the prosecution told the military court. He would watch Israeli soldiers from his rooftop. On the night following the attack, Abu Hamid returned to the site with his face concealed, donning gloves in the hope of wiping his fingerprints off the slab. He was located and arrested a few weeks later, and confessed to the crime.

In 2005, Abu Hamid was convicted of membership in the Hamas military wing and of firing seven bullets at a military jeep. The court sentenced him to five-and-a-half years in prison and fined him.