Har Nof killers’ families said to receive demolition orders
Relatives say they have 48 hours to appeal decision; High Court rejects bid to raze home of tractor killer
Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.
The Israeli government issued demolition orders Thursday to the families of the two East Jerusalem residents who carried out a rampage in a synagogue in the city earlier in the week, granting them 48 hours to appeal the decision.
Representatives of the families of Said Abu Jamal and Ghassan Abu Jamal — the two East Jerusalem cousins who killed five people in the Tuesday terrorist attack at Congregation Bnei Torah in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem before being shot to death by police — were summoned to the police station and informed of the decision. Both families live in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber.
The move came a day after Israeli forces knocked down the home of the family of another East Jerusalem terrorist, marking a return to the controversial practice.
Earlier Thursday, the High Court shot down a government request to raze the house of a terrorist who rammed into a Jerusalem bus with a tractor on August 4, killing Avraham Walles, 29.
A hearing on the matter will be held on Monday, Israel Radio reported. The family of Mohammed Jaabis, 23, from Jabel Mukaber, was notified of the slated demolition earlier this week.
Israel on Wednesday blew up the house of Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, a 21-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem who rammed his car into Israeli pedestrians in October, killing 3-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and Karen Yemima Muscara, an Ecuadorean woman studying in the city.
The Wednesday blast, which rocked the densely populated Silwan neighborhood on a steep hillside just south of Jerusalem’s Old City, marked the restart of a policy of demolishing the family homes of Palestinians responsible for anti-Israeli attacks.
According to Danny Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer and left-wing activist who tracks developments in East Jerusalem, it was the first punitive demolition in the city since April 2009, when police razed the home of a Palestinian who went on a rampage a year earlier, killing three Israelis.
Amer Shaludi, a relative who lives underneath the family’s third-floor apartment, said police burst in shortly after midnight, ordering everyone outside. “Then, at around 4 a.m., there was a huge explosion,” he said.
Aware that the home was slated for demolition, the family had recently moved out.
“The destruction of terrorists’ homes sends a sharp, clear message to those who wish to harm Israeli civilians and security forces, that terrorism and causing harm to innocents carries with it a heavy price,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
On Wednesday evening, following the deadly massacre in Har Nof, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to raze more homes of families of East Jerusalem terrorists.
“We have nothing against the residents of eastern Jerusalem but we will not tolerate attacks on our citizens and we will act against those who do these things and against those engaged in incitement,” he said according to a statement. “With a determined and vigorous hand, we will restore security to Jerusalem.”
Two other families of terrorists in East Jerusalem have now been formally notified that their homes are slated for demolition.
One is that of Mu’taz Hijazi, 32, from Abu Tor who on October 29 tried to assassinate right-wing Jewish activist Yehuda Glick, critically wounding him. Hijazi was shot dead the following morning when he opened fire on security forces trying to arrest him, Israel said.
The second is the home of Ibrahim al-Akary, 38, from the Shuafat refugee camp, who on November 5 rammed his car into pedestrians, killing a teenager and a policeman and wounding nine, before also being shot dead at the scene.
On November 6, following two deadly Palestinian attacks in a fortnight, Netanyahu approved plans to knock down or seal up the homes of anyone attacking Israelis as part of a raft of measures to “restore calm” in Jerusalem.
The aim is to create deterrence: Even if those planning attacks have no concern for their own lives, they might be forced to think twice if they knew it would leave their families homeless.
The punitive measure has been condemned by the international community. On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said the demolitions “are counterproductive in an already tense situation.”
“This is a practice I would remind that the Israeli government itself discontinued in the past, recognizing its effects,” he said.
The Abu Jamal cousins stormed a Har Nof synagogue on Tuesday morning, killing Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kupinsky, Rabbi Kalman Levine and Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg. Zidan Saif, a policeman, was critically hurt by gunfire, and later succumbed to his wounds, bringing the death toll to five.
AFP, AP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.