Israel kills two Palestinians in clashes over home demolition
JERUSALEM - Israeli forces shot dead at least two Palestinians when clashes erupted during an operation Monday to destroy the West Bank home of a Palestinian accused of killing an Israeli hiker, the army said.
Palestinian hospital sources reported the death of two Palestinians, while the Israeli military said three were shot in an exchange of fire at Qalandiya.
Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner spoke of a third death on Twitter, but Palestinian hospital sources had not confirmed it.
The clashes broke out during the morning operation to demolish the home of Mohammed Abu Shahin.
Abu Shahin is accused of shooting dead Danny Gonen near the Dolev settlement in the West Bank on June 19, in an attack that also wounded another Israeli.
During the operation to destroy the house at Qalandiya, hundreds of Palestinians attacked Israeli security forces by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, the military said.
Violence since the start of October has killed 83 people on the Palestinian side -- including one Arab Israeli -- and 12 Israelis.
In response, the Israeli government has ordered an intensification of demolitions of homes of those accused of carrying out the attacks.
It argues that the policy acts as a deterrent, but critics say the main victims are relatives forced to pay for another person's actions.
On Saturday, Israeli troops razed the West Bank homes of four Palestinians accused of attacking Israelis, hours after an Israeli father and son were shot dead in an ambush near the flashpoint city of Hebron.
Three of the homes were destroyed in Nablus, in the northern West Bank, and the other in Silwad, northeast of Ramallah.
Those operations also sparked clashes in which nine Palestinians were wounded, two of them by live ammunition.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon defended the demolitions on Monday and said they would continue, adding that "our forces acted professionally" during the operation earlier in the day.
He cited the case of a Palestinian arrested over Friday's murder of the Israeli father and son. Israeli security forces said his father and brother turned him in, fearing that their home would be razed.
"In recent months, Palestinians have turned in their sons or informed us in advance that they are about to carry out an attack to avoid having their home destroyed," he told army radio.