Court green-lights home razings for Tel Aviv shooters
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Court green-lights home razings for Tel Aviv shooters

Judges note that attacks are getting worse, say evidence exists families may have encouraged deadly Sarona Market attack

Khalid Muhamra, left, Younis Ayash Musa Zayn, center, and Muhammad Muhamra, right, sit behind a glass window during their indictment in a Tel Aviv District Court on July 4, 2016. (Flash90)
Khalid Muhamra, left, Younis Ayash Musa Zayn, center, and Muhammad Muhamra, right, sit behind a glass window during their indictment in a Tel Aviv District Court on July 4, 2016. (Flash90)

The High Court gave the go-ahead Sunday for the Israel Defense Forces to demolish the homes of the two Palestinian terrorists accused of carrying out a shooting attack in central Tel Aviv last month, killing four people and injuring 41.

Cousins Khalid Muhamra and Muhammad Muhamra were both captured immediately after the June 8 attack at a restaurant in the popular Sarona Market entertainment area, in what investigators described as an Islamic State-inspired shooting.

They are awaiting trial on murder charges along with another Palestinian man, Younis Ayash Musa Zayn, accused of helping the two.

Noting that the shooting was the deadliest yet in a wave of attacks that began in October, the court said the army could proceed to destroy the homes of the two, in the southern West Bank town of Yatta, outside Hebron.

However, the court also partially accepted an appeal by neighbors seeking protection for their homes in the same multistory buildings.

Originally two floors of the building where Muhammad Muhamra lived were to be destroyed, but the court ruled that only one will be demolished.

Israeli security forces at the scene where two terrorists opened fire at the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv, on June 8, 2016. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene where two terrorists opened fire at the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv, on June 8, 2016. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Israeli officials say the home demolitions are a key deterrent to keep other Palestinians from carrying out attacks, though human rights groups and other argue that it is a form of collective punishment.

In its decision, the court said it took into account the effect the demolitions could have on the wave of violence, which has left over 30 Israelis dead though it has seemed to wane in recent weeks.

“The reality of the security situation is that there is a sharp increase in terror activities over the past two years. The pace and the seriousness of these attacks is increasing,” the decision read. “There is a need for extraordinary measures to establish the necessary deterrence.”

While the court did not address the controversy surrounding home demolitions, saying the matter had been decided in previous rulings, the decision noted that there was evidence that the family knew of the cousins’ plans and thus could be punished as well.

The judges noted that there were indications that some of Khalid Muhamra’s family members knew he was involved in illegal weapons trafficking and his sister had shared Facebook posts supporting terror and even praised her brother’s attack in a post of her own.

In addition, Muhammed Muhamra’s interrogation indicated that his father knew he was interested in purchasing a weapon.

“There is reason to believe that there was an environment in the houses where the attackers lived, encouraging them, in one way or another, to be involved in security crimes against Israelis,” the decision read.

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