Jul 8, 2021 - World

U.S. criticizes Israel over demolition of family home of Palestinian American alleged attacker

The home was imploded by the Israel Defense Forces. Photo: AFP via Getty

The Biden administration has criticized the Israeli military's demolition of a home in the West Bank owned by the family of a Palestinian American accused of carrying out a terror attack in May.

Why it matters: This is the first time since the new Israeli government was formed that the Biden administration has criticized its actions in the West Bank.

The big picture: Israel has repeatedly demolished the homes of terror suspects in the West Bank, contending that it serves as a deterrent against future attacks.

  • In this case, the home belonged to Muntasir Shalabi, who stands accused of shooting three Israeli civilians who were waiting at a bus stop in the West Bank, one of whom died.
  • When the Israeli military started preparing for the demolition of the house several weeks ago, Shalabi's family appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that Shalabi spent most of his time in the U.S. while his wife and children lived in the home.
  • The judges rejected the appeal, citing Shalabi’s testimony that he owns the house and lived there two months every year.

Driving the news: The Israel Defense Forces demolished the home on Thursday, despite appeals from officials in the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem to their counterparts in the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the Prime Minister’s Office, Israeli officials say.

  • Shortly afterward, a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy issued a critical statement calling on Israel to refrain from unilateral steps “that exacerbate tensions,” like the punitive demolition of Palestinian homes.

What they're saying: "As we stated numerous times, the home of an entire family should not be demolished for the actions of one individual," the embassy spokesperson said.

  • An official at the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office responded, saying, "Bennett respects the Biden administration but takes decisions according to Israel's security considerations."

Worth noting: The demolition took place while a bipartisan delegation of the House Foreign Affairs Committee headed by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) is visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

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