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Liberman calls for razing homes of terrorists who wound Israelis

Defense minister says ‘no difference’ if attack ends in death or injury, calls proposal an ‘effective tool’ in fight against terror

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visits the construction site of the new West Bank settlement of Amichai on October 18, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visits the construction site of the new West Bank settlement of Amichai on October 18, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called Sunday for extending Israel’s policy of demolishing terrorist murderers’ homes to Palestinian assailants who badly wound Israelis in terror attacks, saying such a policy would deter potential terrorists.

Liberman said he recently instructed the Israel Defense Forces and the Defense Ministry’s legal adviser to weigh the possibility of home demolitions in such cases, calling it an “effective tool” against terrorism.

“There is no difference between an attack that ends in murder and an attack that ends with serious injury. In both cases the homes of the terrorists must be destroyed,” he said in a statement posted to Facebook.

Noting that home demolitions are currently only permitted in cases of Palestinians who kill Israeli citizens, Liberman said destroying the houses of those who badly wound Israelis would serve as a deterrence to would-be attackers.

“The fight against terror requires that we be steadfast and operate in different ways and with a mighty hand against those who try to harm us,” he said.

The sealing of the first floor of 19-year-old Omar al-Abed, the perpetrator of the deadly terror attack in the settlement of Halamish on July 21, 2017, in the northern West Bank village of Kobar, August 16, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Office)

Israel has defended the use of home demolitions — which were reintroduced in 2014 after a nine-year moratorium — as a useful deterrent against terror attacks, but a number of left-wing and human rights groups have criticized the policy as ineffective and a form of collective punishment.

Liberman has long pushed for introducing more stringent punishments for terrorists, including the death penalty for those convicted of acts of terror, which was one of his Yisrael Beytenu party’s key campaign promises in the 2015 elections.

Yisrael Beytenu said last month it would revive legislation applying the death penalty to convicted terrorists following a deadly terror attack in the settlement of Har Adar in which three Israelis were killed.

While the proposed legislation has previously failed to garner sufficient support, Liberman expects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support the bill, Channel 2 reported at the time.

After a terror attack in July in the West Bank settlement of Halamish, in which a Palestinian stabbed to death three family members of the Salomon family as they celebrated the birth of a grandson in their home, Netanyahu said he supported the death penalty for the terrorist, saying it was a fitting punishment for a “base murderer.”

Despite the comment by Netanyahu and a number of other top right-wing politicians at the time, an IDF prosecutor said the punishment is not Israeli policy, despite being permissible under law.

In Israel, the death penalty is applicable only in limited circumstances, and has only been carried out once in a civilian court, against Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Final Solution, in 1962.

According to a poll in August, over 70 percent of Jewish Israelis said they support the death penalty for terrorists.

The Knesset has several times rejected legislation that would apply the death penalty to Palestinian terrorists, including in Netanyahu governments.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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