By Maher Abukhater
Jerusalem Nov 16 – An early Monday Israeli army raid on Qalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem left two Palestinians dead, three wounded, and many houses damaged.
Camp residents said hundreds of Israeli soldiers raided the camp after midnight to demolish the home of Mohammad Abu Shaheen, who was arrested by Israel and accused of killing an Israeli settler near Ramallah in June.
The Israeli army said their soldiers came under fire from Palestinian gunmen in the camp as they were proceeding to demolish the home of Abu Shaheen and that they responded to the gunfire. None of the soldiers were injured.
The Israeli army said hundreds of Palestinians also threw stones and firebombs at the soldiers.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said Ahmad Abu Al Eish, 28, and Laith Manasra, 21, were shot and killed by the Israeli army and three others were wounded, one reported in critical condition after he was shot in the stomach.
The soldiers prevented ambulances from the Palestinian Red Crescent from reaching the wounded to evacuate them to hospital, said the ministry.
The soldiers secured all entrances to the camp, set up roadblocks and took over rooftops of homes in the crowded and jammed refugee camp located half way between Jerusalem and Ramallah, said residents.
They said the soldiers on rooftops, whom they described as snipers, opened fire at the Palestinians killing Abu Al Eish and Manasra.
The army forced all residents in the area of the targeted house to leave their homes and stay for hours at an outdoor playground on a cold November night while they proceeded to rig the home in preparation to demolish it.
They used explosives to demolish the top floor of the three-story building where Abu Shaheen was living with his wife and two children, one 3 years old and the second born after his arrest, causing serious damage to the entire building and many homes in the neighborhood.
They said the sound of the explosion was heard throughout the camp and area neighborhoods.
Abu Shaheen, 39, was accused of killing Danny Gonen, 25, on June 19 near Ramallah.
He was later arrested and is serving time in prison.
The demolition of the Qalandia home and earlier destruction of four other Palestinian homes in the West Bank city of Nablus and in a town near Ramallah came after the Israeli High Court gave the green light on November 12 to the Israeli army to demolish homes of Palestinians Israel accuses of killing or attacking Israelis.
The army demolished in Nablus on November 14 the family homes of three Palestinians accused of killing an Israeli couple on a West Bank road on October 1 and a fourth in Silwad, north of Ramallah, of a Palestinian also accused of killing an Israeli in June.
The Palestinian government has condemned the demolition of the homes describing them as “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.”