Israel razes home of ex-wife of Palestinian suspect

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Turmus’ayya (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

The IDF said on Thursday it had demolished the home of a Palestinian American woman whose ex-husband is accused of shooting a Jewish student in the occupied West Bank.

“Overnight … the troops demolished the terrorist’s residence [Montasser] Shalabi, in the village of Turmus Ayya, northeast of Ramallah, “said an army spokesman.

The demolition comes despite American political discouragement.

Shalabi, 44, was arrested by Israeli forces in May after allegedly shooting at passengers waiting at a bus stop at the Tapuah junction south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. The attack killed 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta, a seminary student in the Itamar settlement and injured two of his friends.

Sanaa Shalabi, 40, told AFP that soldiers arrived at 1 a.m. to place explosives around her house. She says the demolition lasted all night.

“This is our life. What happened to us is normal. We were prepared for it,” she said.

She called her husband a “hero”.

Montasser Shalabi did not live in the house that was destroyed, according to Israeli human rights organization Hamoked, which unsuccessfully challenged its demolition in Israel’s Supreme Court.

Executive director Jessica Montell said the couple are estranged. Sanaa lived in the house with three of their seven children. The whole family has dual American citizenship.

“The man accused of the attack does not live in the house, he lives in the United States and he comes once or twice a year,” Montell said.

Sanaa “was in no way involved and knew nothing about the attack. We thought that should be a reason not to demolish or just demolish a room,” she added.

She said Shalabi suffered from mental illness.

The United States has expressed its opposition to punitive house demolitions. A spokesperson said the US Embassy was “following” reports of the demolition.

“The house of an entire family should not be demolished for the actions of one individual,” the spokesperson said.

The army said during the demolition “about 200 rioters threw stones and fireworks” at the troops, who responded with “means to disperse the riots”.