– US Embassy spokesperson: “The home of an entire family should not be demolished for the actions of one individual.”
– Israel PM spokesperson: “The State of Israel acts solely in accordance with security considerations & the need to protect the lives of Israeli citizens.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pushed back at the United States over its condemnation of Israel’s policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians who are charged and or convicted for terror attacks that claim lives.
“The Prime Minister appreciates and respects the US,” his office said.
“At the same time, the State of Israel acts solely in accordance with security considerations and the need to protect the lives of Israeli citizens,” Bennett’s office stated.
It spoke up just hours after the US embassy in Jerusalem slammed the IDF razing of the West Bank family home of Muntasir Shalabi early Thursday morning. Shalabi has been indicted for killing Yehuda Guetta, 19, in a drive-by shooting at the Tapuach junction at the beginning of May.
“The home of an entire family should not be demolished for the actions of one individual,” the Embassy spokesperson said on Thursday.
“We believe it is critical for all parties to refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution; this certainly includes the punitive demolition of Palestinian homes,” the spokesperson added.
Bennett’s exchange with the US is his most serious point of discord since his government was sworn in last month. It comes as Bennett is preparing for his first visit to the White House this summer.
Shalabi holds US citizenship, as does his wife and their seven children, three of whom live in the house and four of whom live in the US.
Early Thursday morning the IDF reported that it had demolished the home located in Turrmus Aiya near Ramallah.
The High Court of Justice had rejected a petition against the demolition as well as a subsequent appeal, filed by the left-wing NGO HaMoked. It had argued that the structure was not Shalabi’s primary home, but rather that of his estranged wife from whom he separated years ago.
“This was the only home of a woman who had effectively separated from the suspect years ago, while he lived most of the time with his other wives and children in homes he owned in the United States,” HaMoked said. “Thus, the suspect did not have significant ‘residential ties’ to the house.”
The NGO also argued that Shalabi suffered from mental illness and had “repeatedly stated that he was motivated by suicidal thoughts.”
Shalabi was indicted in June on charges of murdering Guetta, as well as for the attempted murder of two students, also injured in the shooting.
Five other Palestinians were also indicted for the obstruction of justice because they provided Shalabi with a hiding place during the initial manhunt.
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