JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military on Sunday prepped the family home of a Palestinian gunman for demolition, a day after he killed an Israeli security guard in an attack.
On Saturday a Palestinian gunman shot and killed 42-year-old security guard Chen Amir in central Tel Aviv. The attacker, identified by police as 27-year-old Kamel Abu Bakr, was shot at the scene and died later in hospital.
Amir’s funeral was expected to take place Sunday.
Saturday’s shooting came a day after two Israeli settlers were arrested on suspicion of killing a Palestinian man in the West Bank on Friday night. Palestinian officials said armed settlers entered the West Bank village of Burqa and shot 19-year-old Qusai Matan.
The army said the Israeli settlers arrived in the area to herd sheep, leading to clashes between Israelis and Palestinians from the village. Israeli media reported that one of the suspects in the incident, Elisha Yered, was a former aide to an ultranationalist lawmaker in the “Jewish Power” party, one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s key coalition partners.
The shooting is part of an escalation of settler attacks on Palestinian civilians in recent months, and several Israeli commentators warned Sunday that assailants felt emboldened by fellow ultranationalists in key positions in government.
The Israeli military said troops measured the home of the Palestinian attacker ahead of its demolition in the village of Rumana, near the restive West Bank city of Jenin.
Israel says home demolitions are meant to deter future attackers but critics say they amount to collective punishment against the families of assailants and only exacerbate tensions with Palestinians.
In the right-leaning Hebrew-language daily Israel Hayom, pundit Yoav Limor wrote that there are “armed Jewish militias that are operating like terrorist groups in Samaria,” referring to the West Bank by its biblical name.
“If the state of Israel doesn’t come to its senses and stop them immediately, the damage they will do is far more dangerous than any terror attack of the enemy,” he said.
Last month Jenin’s refugee camp was the scene of the largest Israeli offensive in the West Bank in nearly two decades. Twelve Palestinians, including at least eight militants, and one Israeli soldier, were killed in the fighting, which forced thousands to flee their homes and left extensive destruction.
Violence has spiraled in the northern West Bank with the rise of shooting attacks by Palestinian groups against Israelis and daily arrest raids by the Israeli military, and growing attacks by extremist Jewish settlers.
The surge in fighting is one of the worst between Israelis and Palestinians in nearly two decades. More than 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the start of 2023 in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
Israel says most killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting army raids and innocent bystanders have also been killed.
At least 26 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis so far this year.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.