Clashes in West Bank as Israel Cracks Down on Palestinian Assailants' Families

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Palestinians inspect the damaged house of Issa Assaf, which was demolished by the Israeli army, in Qalandia, Monday, July 4, 2016.
Palestinians inspect the damaged house of Issa Assaf, which was demolished by the Israeli army, in Qalandia, Monday, July 4, 2016. Credit: Nasser Nasser, AP

At least six Palestinians were wounded overnight Sunday in clashes with the Israeli army in the West Bank's Qalandiyah refugee camp. The clashes broke out after Israel razed the homes of Palestinians said to be behind a Jerusalem stabbing attack from December in which two Israelis were killed.

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces arrested the brothers of the Palestinian terrorist behind last week's lethal stabbing of a 13-year-old Israeli girl. Some 13 other Palestinians were also arrested in overnight raids, five from the Hebron region.

Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian in her Kiryat Arba home on Thursday morning. Ariel was sleeping when the Palestinian assailant, identified as Mohammed Tra'ayra, 19, from the village of Bani Na'im, jumped over the settlement's perimeter fence, broke into her house and stabbed her.

The scene of the stabbing at Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate, December 23, 2015. Credit: AFP

In Qalandiyah, Israel moved to demolish the homes of Anan Abu Habseh and Issa Yassin Asaf. The two were killed after lethally stabbing Rabbi Reuven (Eduardo) Birmajer, 45, at Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate in December and were also implicated in the death of Ofer Ben Ari, 46, who was killed by an errant bullet during attack.

The decision to raze their homes was taken after Israel's top court rejected their families' petition to stop the demolition.

Israel demolishes the house of Issa Assaf and Anan Abu Habseh, involved in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem which killed two Israelis. July 4, 2016.Credit: IDF

After the home was torn down, residents of Qalandiyah threw stones and bricks at the Israeli forces, with live gun fire also reported. IDF forces responded with rubber and live bullet fire and some six Palestinians were wounded. According to Palestinian medical sources, the six were hurt by live rounds and were taken to a local hospital, with one in serious condition with wounds to the spinal cord.

Masked Palestinian men carry a comrade during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in the village of Dura near the Israeli occupied West Bank city of Hebron, July 4, 2016Credit: Hazem Bader, AFP

West Bank closure

Early Sunday morning, six Palestinians were arrested in the Hebron area, including the sister of the terrorist from Bani Na'im. She was arrested for incitement, after she appeared on television saying she supported her brother and wished Allah would take revenge on the Jews, said defense officials. 

During a tour of the area on Sunday afternoon, it seemed that despite the limitations on travel in the area, the closure imposed on Hebron and its surrounding areas, where some 700,000 people live, was not being enforced strictly. The entrances to some towns and villages, for example Idna and Halhoul, had traffic backups because of the checkpoints set up by the IDF, but they did not prevent Palestinians from leaving or entering. 

But the town of Bani Na'im, where the terrorist who killed Ariel came from, was still under full closure, and no one was allowed in or out - except for humanitarian reasons. 

Palestinians wait to cross an Israeli army checkpoint on July 3, 2016 at a road next to the Palestinian town of Al-Fawwar south of Hebron.Credit: Menahem Kahana / AFP

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