Former Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard said on Sunday that Israel should destroy the Palestinian town of Huwara in the West Bank, but without killing anyone, in response to the terror attack that killed two brothers over a week ago.
“It’s up to the government right now to reestablish credibility, not only with our own people, but with our enemies as well, and that means unfortunately for some that Huwara must be destroyed,” Pollard told the Kan public broadcaster at a memorial service for Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, in Jerusalem.
“The graves mark the end of two wonderful men. The destruction of Huwara will mark the beginning of our reconquest of our land,” he added.
Hours after the Palestinian shooting terror attack that killed the brothers over a week ago, dozens of settlers ran riot through Huwara and other nearby towns, setting fire to buildings and cars, leaving one Palestinian dead and several others badly injured, in what the top general in charge of the area labeled a “pogrom.”
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also said on Wednesday that the state should “wipe out” Huwara, then walked back the remarks on Saturday as a “slip of the tongue” made in a “storm of emotions.” The comments caused an international uproar and put the top minister’s expected trip to the United States next week in question.
Pollard moved with his late wife, Esther, to Israel in December 2020, after he served 30 years in a US prison for espionage, followed by five years of parole.
Ahead of the most recent elections, Pollard was reportedly offered a spot on the slate of the extreme-right Otzma Yedudit party, but turned it down because he could not see himself in politics, telling media at the time that he “had suffered enough.”
He told Kan on Sunday he believed that “our enemies only understand decisive retaliation,” warranting the destruction of the village.
“God forbid, no one should die in this process, but the village of hate that celebrated the death of these two men and hid the terrorists who murdered them should be punished,” he said, adding, “some say, well it’s collective punishment. Well, I’m sorry, but the murderers were acting on behalf of a people, and a government.”
Asked if he trusted the government, Pollard replied: “After my experiences, are you kidding me? Who are you asking? Trust a government? No, I trust the people and I trust the land, I trust God.
“I already learned a terrible lesson in that regard,” he added.
As an intelligence analyst in the US Navy’s counterterrorism center, Pollard passed thousands of top secret US documents to Israel, straining relations between the two close allies.
He was arrested in 1985, convicted of espionage, and sentenced to life in prison two years later, despite pleading guilty in a deal his attorneys had expected would result in a more lenient sentence.
He was eventually released in 2015, but was kept in the United States by parole rules and not allowed to travel to Israel.
For several years, he remained subject to a curfew, had to wear a wrist monitor, and was prohibited from working for any company that lacked US government monitoring software on its computer systems. In addition, he was restricted from traveling abroad.