Palestinian Family's West Bank Home to Be Demolished Following Court Ruling

The family home of a detained Palestinian accused of a deadly shooting is set to be demolished following a ruling by Israel's Supreme Court Wednesday.

Muntasser Shalaby is accused of carrying out a drive-by shooting on May 2 that killed an Israeli and wounded two others. His wife, Sanaa Shalaby, lives in the home with their children and said that she and her husband are estranged and that she knew nothing about the attack.

Israeli officials say the policy of destroying family homes of attackers deters future attacks. The policy has drawn much criticism, as human rights groups claim it is a form of collective punishment.

The U.S. State Department has spoken out against actions by Israel and Palestinians that may undermine efforts to bring peace, including punitive home demolitions. "The home of an entire family should not be demolished for the actions of one individual," it said earlier this month.

Israel Set to Demolish Palestinian Home
Sanaa Shalaby, the estranged wife of Muntasser Shalaby, who Israeli security forces accuse of carrying out a May shooting that killed an Israeli and wounded two others in the occupied West Bank, in her home in the West Bank village of Turmus Ayya on Wednesday. Majdi Mohammed/AP Photo

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Sanaa Shalaby told the AP that the couple have been estranged for several years and that her husband spent most of his time in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he had married three other women in unofficial Islamic ceremonies. The entire family has U.S. citizenship.

Sanaa said he would return to the West Bank for a month or two every year to visit their three children, aged 17, 12 and 9, who live with her in the home in the village of Turmus Ayya. HaMoked, an Israeli rights group representing her, said he had a history of mental illness.

In upholding the demolition order, the Supreme Court noted that Muntasser had lived in the home continuously from 2006 to 2012, before their estrangement, and had resided there for weeks before the attack. It said the petitioners did not present sufficient evidence to show he had suffered from mental illness.

Jessica Montell, the executive director of HaMoked, said the "disappointing" judgment would allow the military to expand the use of punitive home demolitions. Her group is weighing whether to request another hearing and says the court is unlikely to grant one.

She said the house could be demolished any time after an interim injunction expires on June 30.

"If Mrs. Shalaby's legal recourse has been exhausted, the diplomatic recourse is crucial: Is the U.S. government going to allow this blatant collective punishment against a U.S. citizen mother and three children?"

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.

Israeli Supreme Court Home Demolished
Residential buildings stand in front of the Rutenberg power station close to the border with the Gaza Strip, on the outskirts of the southern Israeli city of Shkelon, on Wednesday. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images