Photo: IDF

IDF destroys Palestinian terrorist’s home

IDF troops demolished the home of a Palestinian terrorist charged with murdering an Israeli rabbi.

Rabbi Shai Ohayon, a 39-year-old father of four, sustained multiple stab wounds to his upper body when getting off a bus near the Segula Junction in Petah Tikva on 26 August. Paramedics arriving at the scene found the victim unconscious and without a pulse. He was pronounced dead after being evacuated to the trauma ward at the Belinson Medical Center. According to a statement from the Israeli Ministry of Affairs, Rabbi Ohayon was a respected and prominent figure in his neighborhood, who had been a full-time student at a religious institution and  teacher of Torah lessons.

Khalil Abd-Elkhaliq Mohammad Dwikhat was arrested by police shortly after Ohayon’s murder with a bloodstained knife in his possession, and he was transferred to the Israeli Shin Bet Security Agency for interrogation. The 46-year-old Palestinian had no prior known links to terrorism and had an Israeli work permit. According to the indictment, he took a knife from the construction site where he was employed and set out in search of a victim after deciding to kill an Israeli “for Palestine, the Palestinian people, the Al Aqsa Mosque and Allah.” He was formally charged with murder in September.

Israel maintains a counterterrorism policy initiated during the British Mandate mandating the destruction of any structure used to plot or carry out violent offences, including homes, munition factories or militant hideouts. The method is not only punitive but designed to serve as a deterrent for future attacks. Buildings designated for destruction are mapped out, most often by combat engineers, in advance of controlled-explosions or razing by troops.

Dwikhat’s two-storey home in the village of Rujeib southeast of the West Bank city of Nablus was mapped by IDF troops in August. The demolition had been suspended since the October filing of a legal petition against it by Dwikhat’s family, and was carried out after denial of a final appeal by Israel’s High Court of Justice in a 2-to-1 ruling.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit told TV7 in a statement that an estimated 150 Palestinians rioted and burned tires during the bulldozing of the property. Israeli troops responded with riot dispersal methods after coming under attack by thrown rocks and bottles of paint.

The Palestinian Maan News Agency reported that three youth were wounded in the clashes “that lasted for several hours.”

In related developments, the High Court canceled the confiscation and demolition order of the home of Nizmi Abu Bakar, who is charged with killing IDF First Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal of the elite Golani Reconnaissance Battalion during a 12 May mission to arrest Palestinian members of a terror cell.

Abu Bakar is accused of throwing a large cinder block from the roof of the building where he lived with his family in the northern West Bank village of Ya’bad near the West Bank city of Jenin that struck Ben-Yigal in the head, killing him. The 21-year-old was the first IDF soldier casualty of 2020.

In accordance with a ruling by the justices that Abu Bakar’s family neither participated nor were aware of his intention to murder an Israeli soldier, the room in which 49-year-old resided was instead permanently sealed off by the IDF two weeks ago.

“Our forces have found and arrested the lowly terrorist who killed Amit Ben Yigal,” announced Israeli Alternate Premier and Defense Minister Benny Gantz after a massive manhunt for the killer culminated in his capture in a joint IDF and Shin Bet operation, expressing his hope that the terrorist’s capture and prosecution would bring solace to the Ben Yigal family.

“Whoever harms the citizens and soldiers of Israel – will pay a heavy price,” Gantz underscored, stressing that, “We will reach anyone, anywhere.”