IDF preps home of ax attacker for razing, despite family turning him in
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IDF preps home of ax attacker for razing, despite family turning him in

Saadi Ali Abu Ahmad was arrested for critically wounding Ma’ale Adumim security guard after a relative called police; forces also map homes of Eli assailants

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Palestinians inspect the damage in the home of Baha Allian, which was demolished by Israeli security forces in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukabar, as part of Israel's punishment for a terror attack, on January 4, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Palestinians inspect the damage in the home of Baha Allian, which was demolished by Israeli security forces in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukabar, as part of Israel's punishment for a terror attack, on January 4, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israeli forces took steps overnight to prepare the demolition of the family home of a Palestinian man who attacked a security guard with an ax in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim last week, despite the fact that he was turned in by a relative, the army said Thursday.

Saadi Ali Abu Ahmad was arrested on Saturday after a relative of his called police earlier that night and said that the suspect was staying with him and was prepared to turn himself in after attacking and critically injuring Tzvika Cohen.

Police officials said the relative may have turned Abu Ahmad in to avert the demolition of the suspected attacker’s family home, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

The army said forces mapped the home of Abu Ahmad, approximately 20 years old, in the village of al-Eizariya adjacent to Ma’ale Adumim.

Abu Ahmad possessed a permit to work in Israeli settlements, the Shin Bet said, and according to reports may have known his victim.

Saadi Ali Abu Ahmad, the Palestinian terrorist who attacked Tzvika Cohen, an unarmed guard, at a mall in Ma'ale Adumim on February 25, 2016 (Channel 2 screenshot)
Saadi Ali Abu Ahmad, the Palestinian terrorist who attacked Tzvika Cohen, an unarmed guard, at a mall in Ma’ale Adumim on February 25, 2016 (Channel 2 screenshot)

He confessed to carrying out the Friday attack, which left Cohen in critical condition, the Shin Bet said in a statement Sunday.

Last month, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit insisted that Israel spare the Hebron family home of Shadi Ahmad Matua — accused of killing Rabbi Isaac Litman, 40, and his 18-year-old son, Netanel, in a shooting attack in November — because the gunman’s father had handed him in to the Shin Bet security agency.

Friends and family attend the funeral of Rabbi Ya’akov Litman, 40, and his son Netanel, 18, in Jerusalem on November 14, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90, File)
Friends and family attend the funeral of Rabbi Ya’akov Litman, 40, and his son Netanel, 18, in Jerusalem on November 14, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90, File)

The practice of home demolitions has been criticized by various international groups as a form of collective punishment. Some critics claim that house demolitions may even motivate family members of terrorists to launch attacks themselves.

The Supreme Court, however, has repeatedly rejected such claims and accepted the security establishment’s stance that home demolitions serve as an effective deterrent measure for potential attackers.

Israeli forces also mapped the homes of Labib Azzam and Mohammed Zaghlwan in the West Bank village of Qaryut, east of Ramallah, to prepare them for demolition, the army said.

The two, both aged 17, were shot and killed during an assault in the nearby settlement of Eli Wednesday morning. The victim, Roee Harel, was beaten and stabbed with a knife at his home and taken to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center with light injuries.

Roee Harel, victim of the attack in Eli, is seen at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem on March 2, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Roee Harel, victim of the attack in Eli, is seen at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem on March 2, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Twenty-nine Israelis and three foreign nationals have been killed in a wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence since October. Around 170 Palestinians have also been killed, some two thirds of them while attacking Israelis, and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli army.

The houses of 12 Palestinian attackers have been destroyed since the start of the current wave of violence in September, in line with the Supreme Court’s rulings.

Raphael Ahren and Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

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