Israel Levels Home of Man Accused of Drive-By Shooting, Leaving Family Homeless

Israel leveled the home of a Palestinian-American man accused of a fatal drive-by shooting, leaving his family homeless in the occupied West Bank, the Associated Press reported.

Israel has accused Muntasser Shalaby of killing an Israeli student and wounding two others on May 2. Israeli forces demolished the two-story home—where his estranged wife and their three children lived—with controlled explosions Thursday.

His wife, Sanaa Shalaby, tried to stop Israel's plans to destroy the home with an appeal that was rejected. She said Shalaby barely resided there and mostly lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Shalabys all have U.S. citizenship.

"As we stated numerous times, the home of an entire family should not be demolished for the actions of one individual," the U.S. Embassy said, condemning the action. The

"Whoever committed the crime should be punished, but it's not the family's fault," Shalaby's wife told AP last month.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Home Leveled in West Bank
Israel leveled the home of a Palestinian-American man accused of a drive-by shooting, leaving his family homeless. Above, Muntasser Shalaby's home is demolished by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank on July 8, 2021. Uncredited/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. is opposed to punitive home demolitions and has taken a more critical line toward Israel's policies in the occupied West Bank since President Joe Biden took office this year.

Israeli forces moved into the village of Turmus Ayya overnight and surrounded the home. AP video footage showed troops leveling the two-story home.

Shalaby was arrested days after the attack.

Sanaa Shalaby, said they were estranged for several years. She said he had married three other women in New Mexico in unofficial Islamic ceremonies.

She said she had little contact with him in recent years, though he would return to the home each year for a month or two to visit his children.

Shalaby said she knew nothing about the attack and had no indication he was planning anything.

She appealed the demolition order with the help of an Israeli human rights group, but Israel's Supreme Court upheld it last month.

The case drew attention to Israel's policy of punitive demolitions of the homes of alleged Palestinian attackers. Israeli officials say the demolitions deter future attacks, while rights groups view them as a form of collective punishment.

The U.S. State Department has urged a halt to the practice.

In a break from its predecessors, the Trump administration rarely criticized Israeli actions in the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war and is claimed by the Palestinians as part of a future state. But the new Biden administration has taken a tougher stance.

The U.S. Embassy said in its statement that all sides should refrain from any steps that undermine efforts to revive a peace process leading to a two-state solution. "This certainly includes the punitive demolition of Palestinian homes," it said.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's office said, "he acts solely in accordance with the security considerations of the State of Israel and to protect the lives of its citizens."

Israeli Forces Demolish Home
The sun rises while an Israeli army unit demolishes the house of Palestinian-American Muntasser Shalaby using controlled explosions, in the West Bank village of Turmus Ayya, north of Ramallah, on July. 8, 2021. Nasser Nasser/AP Photo