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Israel razes homes of Palestinians suspected of axe murders

Israeli soldiers deploy to demolish houses in Rummanah town in the occupied West Bank
— Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

Israel demolished the homes of two young Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Monday suspected of carrying out an axe attack in May that killed three people.

Bulldozers tore down the family homes of Assad Yussef al-Rifai, 19, and Subhi Imad Abu Shukair, 20 in the village of Rummanah, near Jenin in the north of the West Bank, the army said.

Both men are awaiting trial, after a stabbing frenzy in the mainly ultra-Orthodox Jewish city of Elad.

Israel launched a massive manhunt following the attack, ultimately finding the pair hiding in bushes inside Israel.

"Tonight, the Israeli army destroyed the home of the terrorists who carried out the attack in Elad, in which Boaz Gul, Oren Ben Yiftach and Yonatan Habakkuk were killed and others were wounded," the army said in a statement.

Kamal Abu al-Rub, deputy governor of Jenin, told AFP that more than 50 military vehicles had stormed the town overnight.

"The electricity was cut off from the area, and the vehicles continued to attack the two houses until Monday morning," he said.

Families of the two men had lost appeals filed with Israel's supreme court to prevent the demolitions.

The demolitions came just hours after a ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad militants in the Gaza Strip came into force, following three days of violence in which 44 Palestinians were killed.

Israel routinely demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out attacks.

It argues such measures act as a deterrent, but critics say it amounts to collective punishment.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War.

About 475,000 Jewish settlers currently live in the West Bank in communities considered illegal by most of the international community, alongside some 2.8 million Palestinians.