Israel army destroys Palestinian attacker’s West Bank home

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The army destroyed the walls of Ashraf Naalwa’s home on the ground and first floors of the house, before withdrawing on Monday morning. (AFP)
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The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the operation. (AFP)
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Ashraf Naalwa was suspected of killing a 28-year-old woman and a 35-year-old man in the Barkan industrial zone of the occupied West Bank in October and was killed when forces tried to arrest him. (AFP)
Updated 17 December 2018
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Israel army destroys Palestinian attacker’s West Bank home

  • Three people were injured by rubber bullets, official Palestinian news agency Wafa said
  • Hundreds of soldiers surrounded the house in a suburb of Tulkarm in the north of the West Bank

NABLUS, Palestinian Territories: Israeli forces destroyed the home of a Palestinian accused of killing two Israelis, in an army raid that triggered clashes overnight Monday, an AFP journalist said.
Three people were injured by rubber bullets, official Palestinian news agency Wafa said.
Hundreds of soldiers surrounded the house in a suburb of Tulkarm in the north of the West Bank, the AFP journalist said.
The army destroyed the walls of Ashraf Naalwa’s home on the ground and first floors of the house, before withdrawing on Monday morning.
The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the operation.
Naalwa, 23, was killed by the Israeli army last Thursday after a two-month manhunt.
He was accused of killing two Israeli colleagues in an industrial zone near the northern West Bank Jewish settlement of Barkan.
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas claimed Naalwa as one of its fighters.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered “the acceleration of the demolition of terrorists’ homes” in the wake of the recent wave of attacks.
Late Sunday, Israeli ministers gave initial approval to a bill that would allow the army to move family members of Palestinian attackers to a different West Bank location.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose Jewish Home faction was behind the bill, said it would help deter would-be assailants.
“The terrorists have stopped fearing us,” he said in a statement, noting that the justice ministry opposes the proposed legislation.


US-backed forces take positions in last Daesh enclave

Smoke rises from the last besieged Daesh enclave in Baghouz, Syria where Syrian Democratic Forces have taken positions. (Reuters)
Updated 18 March 2019
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US-backed forces take positions in last Daesh enclave

  • Smoke rose over the tiny Baghouz enclave as warplanes and artillery bombarded it
  • Daesh fighters inside Baghouz are among the group’s most hardened foreign fighters

BAGHOUZ, Syria: US-backed fighters said they had taken positions in Daesh’s last enclave in eastern Syria and air strikes pounded the tiny patch of land beside the Euphrates River early on Monday, a Reuters journalist said.
Smoke rose over the tiny enclave as warplanes and artillery bombarded it. Another witness said the militants had earlier mounted a counter attack.
“Several positions captured and an ammunition storage has been blown up,” said Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, on Twitter late on Sunday.
The enclave resembles an encampment, filled with stationary vehicles and rough shelters with blankets or tarpaulins that could be seen flapping in the wind during a lull in fighting as people walked among them.
Backed by air power and special forces from a US-led coalition, the SDF has pushed Daesh from almost the entire northeastern corner of Syria, defeating it in Raqqa in 2017 and driving it to its last enclave at Baghouz last year.
But while its defeat at Baghouz will end its control of populated land in the third of Syria and Iraq that it captured in 2014, the group will remain a threat, regional and Western officials say.
The SDF has waged a staggered assault on the enclave, pausing for long periods over recent weeks to allow surrendering fighters, their families and other civilians to pour out.
Since Jan. 9, more than 60,000 people have left the enclave, about half of them surrendering Daesh supporters including some 5,000 fighters, the SDF said on Sunday.
People leaving the area have spoken of harsh conditions inside, under coalition bombardment and with supplies of food so scarce some resorted to eating grass.
Last month, the SDF said it had found a mass grave in an area it captured.
Still, many of those who left Baghouz have vowed their allegiance to the militant group, which last week put out a propaganda film from inside the enclave calling on its supporters to keep faith.
Suicide attacks on Friday targeted families of Daesh fighters attempting to leave the enclave and surrender, killing six people, the SDF said.
Late on Sunday, the Kurdish Ronahi TV station aired footage showing a renewed assault on the enclave, with fires seen to be raging inside and tracer fire and rockets zooming into the tiny area.
The SDF and the coalition say the Daesh fighters inside Baghouz are among the group’s most hardened foreign fighters, though Western countries believe its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, has left the area.