Israeli forces razed the southern West Bank homes of two Palestinian gunmen on Thursday who shot dead four Israelis at a trendy Tel Aviv cafe in June, the army said. “Overnight in accordance with government directives security forces demolished the residences of the two terrorists who carried out the terror attack at the Sarona market on June 8, killing four civilians and wounding several more,” a military spokeswoman said.
The Yatta home of Mohammad Makhamrah was blown up, with the windows of nearby homes shattered by the explosion. The second story of a building where Khaled Makhamrah’s family lived a short distance away was demolished by an excavator, witnesses told reporters. The pair, who are cousins, were charged last month at the Tel Aviv district court for murder, conspiring to murder and attempted murder.
A third suspect also from Yatta, south of Hebron, was charged over allegedly providing them with guns. Video footage from the June attack showed the two men walking into a popular Tel Aviv cafe wearing black suits, before opening fire on customers at random. Three people were shot dead, while a fourth died of a heart attack and 15 others were wounded.
According to the Shin Bet domestic security agency, the assault was planned after a July 2015 arson attack by Jewish extremists in the West Bank that killed three members of a Palestinian family, including an 18-month-old baby. Khaled Makhamrah had wanted to carry out “a revenge attack against Israel in the name of the Islamic State” group during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the Shin Bet said last month.
Today, bystanders gathered around the rubble of what used to be his house, as a Yatta municipality bulldozer cleared the road. Ammar Makhamrah, a relative of Khaled who lives next to the demolished home, told AFP the Israeli army had given family members time to leave the building and take furniture before razing it. A short distance away, Mohammad Makhamrah’s mother was consoled by women from her family in a building near the rubble that used to be home to her and 10 other relatives.
Israel routinely demolishes homes of Palestinian assailants in what it says is a means to deter further attacks. Israeli forces also seized four gun-making devices overnight, a military statement read, bringing the number of such machines seized throughout the occupied West Bank to 27, with 235 firearms taken. Violence in the Palestinian territories and Israel since October has killed at least 219 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese, according to an AFP count.