The Israeli army demolished the West Bank home of exiled Hamas number two Saleh al-Aruri with explosives on Tuesday as war raged with the Islamist group in Gaza.
The Israeli military said forces entered the village of Arura, near Ramallah, and shot at people who were “hurling” rocks towards them during the demolition.
Aruri is accused by Israel of masterminding numerous attacks. He was elected deputy to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in 2017, before being officially named the group’s number two.
An AFP journalist saw the ruins of the house in Arura, where Aruri’s nephew said the move was meant to “intimidate” people.
“And to distance people as much as possible from the resistance (to Israel), but these people are steadfast,” said Qutaiba Khasib.
The Israeli military arrested around 20 people including a brother of Aruri and nine of his nephews, on October 21, village mayor Ali al-Khasib and witnesses told AFP.
At the same time, they interrogated dozens of residents and took possession of Aruri’s house.
After spending nearly two decades in Israeli prisons, Aruri was freed in 2010 on the condition he went into exile.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and its forces regularly carry out incursions into Palestinian communities.
Israel has ramped up its raids since October 7, when Hamas militants crossed from Gaza and attacked Israeli communities and military posts.
Around 1,400 people were killed, the majority civilians, and 240 others taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.
Israeli bombardment of Gaza has since killed more than 8,300 people, the vast majority also civilians, the territory’s health ministry said in its latest toll.
Against the backdrop of the war, violence has surged across the occupied West Bank.
At least 122 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers since October 7, according to the Ramallah-based health ministry.
Two members of the Israeli forces have been killed in the West Bank over the same period, one of them by friendly fire, the military said.