Israeli forces kill Hamas militant

Israeli forces killed a Hamas militant Monday, bulldozing the house where he was hiding after he refused to surrender during a late-night raid, officials said.

The body of Ali Sweiti, 42, who was suspected in the 2004 killing of an Israeli soldier, was pulled from the rubble in the West Bank town of Beit Awwa, near Hebron.

Sweiti, who had two wives and 14 children, was known as a senior member of the Izzidin al-Qassam Brigade, the armed wing of the Islamist movement Hamas.

“It was about 3 in the morning when the soldiers broke into our building and ordered all of us in the building to come down,” said a relative and neighbor of Sweiti who lives in the building next door. “They put us all in one room in [our] building as the soldiers took it over.”

Sweiti refused to surrender and opened fire at the soldiers, Israeli officials said. “The terrorist continued to fire at the force and was ultimately killed,” the military said in a statement.

Using loudspeakers, soldiers ordered all remaining occupants of the house where Sweiti was holed up to evacuate and dispatched a bulldozer to destroy it, according to witnesses.

Following the raid, villagers pelted soldiers with rocks. Soldiers responded with rubber bullets and tear gas, witnesses said. Seven Palestinians were wounded, medics said.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, was quick to condemn the killing and to direct blame at its rival, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank. Hamas officials accused the Palestinian Authority security forces of “playing a dangerous role” in helping Israeli forces find Sweiti’s hiding place, said Ahmad Bahr, a Hamas leader in Gaza.

Abukhater is a special correspondent.