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Israeli forces surround West Bank home of fugitive Barkan terrorist

IDF troops at the home of the assailant in the West Bank village Shuweika, north of Tulkarm, October 7, 2018
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Ashraf Waleed Suliman Na’alwa, 23, has been on the run for a month

A large contingency of Israeli forces arrived in the northern West Bank village of Shuweika on Wednesday encircling the home of a fugitive Palestinian terrorist who murdered two Israelis in a shooting attack last month, apparently ahead of its demolition.

Ashraf Waleed Suliman Na’alwa, 23, has been on the run for a month, after storming the offices of the Barkan factory where he was employed on October 7 and fatally shooting two Israeli colleagues.

Israeli forces on Tuesday handed Na’alwa’s family a demolition order for the parts of a home in Shuweika he inhabited. The upper floors, where the fugitive terrorist did not live, were not scheduled to be demolished.

Video from the scene on Wednesday showed a large number of soldiers at the site, along with armored military jeeps and at least one bulldozer.

Palestinian news agency WAFA said meanwhile that IDF troops fired stun grenades as they stormed one of the home's entrances. The report said that none of Na’alwa’s family members were inside at the time.

The IDF did not immediately comment on the nature of the operations underway in the village.

Israel implements a policy of deterrence in which the homes of Palestinian terrorists who carry out attacks are demolished, often overnight. Human rights groups say the measure amounts to collective punishment, with the suspects' families forced to suffer for others' acts.

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Amid a month-long manhunt for Na’alwa, Israeli forces have erected posters throughout his hometown of Tulkarem warning residents that aiding him would incur penalties including “extended detention, home demolition and the cancellation of [work] permits for themselves and their families.”

Na’alwa -- who held a valid work permit for the Barkan industrial zone -- arrived to the offices of the Alon Group factory armed with an illegally manufactured Carlo-style submachine gun where he tied up and shot dead 28-year-old Kim Levengrond Yehezkel before also killing 35-year-old Ziv Hajbi.

The army has launched an investigation into how Na’alwa was able to smuggle his weapon into the gated industrial park and into whether he had bound Levengrond Yehezkel with the intention of taking her hostage.

Officials reportedly believe that Na’alwa, who left a suicide note before carrying out the attack, was preparing to engage Israeli forces who attempt to arrest him. He is considered armed and dangerous.

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Na’alwa was described by his father, who works in Israel, as "a quiet guy who didn’t look for trouble," according to Haaretz. His relatives made a public appeal to Na’alwa over Israel’s Army Radio last month, urging him to turn himself in.

The IDF said that Na’alwa was known to security forces but had no past terror offenses and no formal ties to terrorist groups, saying it appeared to have been a “lone-wolf attack.”

Palestinian militant groups nonetheless praised the attack, calling it revenge for Israeli “crimes” towards the Palestinians.

Levengrond Yehezkel, mother to an 18-month-old son, was laid to rest the evening of the attack and Hajbi, a father of three, the day after. Hundreds of mourners attended their funerals.

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