In first, cabinet okays sealing home of teen Jerusalem terrorist

Ben Gvir assails attorney general for delaying legislation cementing his authority over police chief

Security forces at the scene of a terror attack near Jerusalem's Old City on January 28, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Security forces at the scene of a terror attack near Jerusalem's Old City on January 28, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The government voted Sunday in favor of sealing off the home of a 13-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem who wounded two in a terror shooting on Saturday.

Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting followed a deadly weekend in the capital that saw seven Israelis killed and several others injured in two separate terror attacks.

Police said earlier Sunday that they had sealed the home of Alqam Khayri, the terrorist who carried out the attack on Friday that killed seven and injured three in East Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood.

The second attacker, 13-year-old Muhammad Aliwat, also from East Jerusalem, seriously injured two people the next day, before being shot and wounded by armed members of the group he attacked.

The attorney general’s representatives present at the meeting raised problems with sealing the 13-year-old’s home, as current Israeli policy states that a terrorist’s home will only be sealed or demolished if the attack included fatalities, which in this case, it did not.

Sealing the homes of attackers is often a replacement for demolishing them. In general, the process takes several months. The home needs to be mapped out, the High Court of Justice must hear appeals by the family, and, in the event, deny them, and then security forces often wait for an optimal time to enter Palestinian cities for the operation.

As the political echelon reportedly continued to press the issue, Baharav-Miara’s representatives clarified that the move would require changing the law and adapting the policy accordingly.

A decision was eventually reached to seal the home, though the move can be appealed. The Prime Minister’s Office later clarified that the vote only affected the policy in this specific case and would not impact other incidents. Officials will review the broader policy issue for future cases.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives opening remarks during Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, January 29, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Ministers also discussed other measures meant to curb Palestinian terrorism. These include potentially revoking the residency or citizenship of terrorists’ relatives and deporting them to territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would back new measures, including a bill to allow employers to fire workers who express support for terror without the usual required hearing.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the government backs expediting any bill that “strengthens deterrence by exacting a price from those in terrorists’ immediate proximity.”

Science and Technology Minister (Likud) Ofir Akunis said at the meeting: “Legal debates don’t combat terrorism. We must revoke the citizenship or residency of East Jerusalem residents who were involved in terror attacks immediately. If the father of a murderer is happier [at the attack] than at his wedding, let him be deported. It must be immediate and effective.”

“While we are not seeking escalation, we are prepared for any possibility,” Netanyahu said. “Our answer to terrorism is an iron fist and a powerful, swift and precise response.”

Tobias Siegal and Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report. 

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