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PA media accuses Jerusalem of demolishing bakery operated by family of terrorist

Municipality denies knowing of any connection between building and Udai Tamimi’s relatives; says demolition orders issued in 2014, provides photos showing site derelict and rundown

Israeli authorities demolish a building that was built without a permit, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, November 7, 2022. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)
Israeli authorities demolish a building that was built without a permit, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, November 7, 2022. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

Palestinian official media on Monday accused the Jerusalem municipality of demolishing a bakery outside the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem as an act of retribution against the family of a terrorist who shot and killed an Israeli soldier last month.

The municipality denied the charge, saying it was unaware that the building was reportedly being rented out by the family of the terrorist, Udai Tamimi, and that demolition orders had been issued as far back as 2014.

Tamimi shot and killed IDF soldier Noa Lazar in a shooting attack at a checkpoint at the entrance of Shuafat refugee camp on October 8.

Following an 11-day manhunt that included a closure on the camp, Tamimi was killed when he tried to carry out a second shooting at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.

In a report after the building was demolished, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa, charged that the lack of a building permit was merely a pretext for the demolition, whose real purpose was “punitive.”

During the closure on the camp, critics, including several Arab-party members of the Knesset, denounced the measures as a form of “collective punishment,” while family members accused Israel of targeting them.

Udai Tamimi is seen opening fire at a checkpoint near the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim on October 19, 2022. (Video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Udai Tamimi’s father, Kamal Tamimi — who told al-Jazeera that he had no knowledge of his son’s plans, but was “proud of him” — claimed that his home and those of extended family members were subject to daily raids in the aftermath of the attack. Udai Tamimi’s mother was reportedly arrested soon after the the fatal Shuafat checkpoint attack then released to house arrest until October 25 on bail of NIS 3,000 ($847).

Kamal Tamimi also said that he and members of his family received threats that their homes would be demolished, along with the family bakery, which was the primary source of income for many of them.

Sgt Noa Lazar, 18, who was killed in a shooting attack in East Jerusalem on October 8, 2022. (Israel Defence Forces)

The IDF routinely destroys the homes of terrorists. Israel defends the contentious practice of razing the family homes of attackers as a deterrent against future assaults. Over the years, a number of Israeli defense officials have questioned the efficacy of the practice, and human rights activists have denounced it as unfair collective punishment.

However, these demolitions are carried out by the military and have never previously targeted businesses.

The Jerusalem municipality denied targeting the family, telling The Times of Israel that it had no idea that the 110-square-meter shop was being rented to members of the Tamimi family and that the demolition order was in keeping with standard municipal protocols.

Credible footage shows the building in what appears to be a state of abandonment as demolition crews arrived. The municipality said the demolition order was issued in 2014 and the building had long since been abandoned.

One picture from inside the building set to be razed does appear to show an oven. It looks, however, to be falling apart.

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, a deputy mayor of Jerusalem, characterized the accusation of a revenge demolition as “preposterous and laughable,” adding that the city’s building and planning department is a “bureaucratic entity that enforces the law,” not a “secret service that knows or cares about anyone’s affiliations or activities.”

Critics say there is not enough transparency in the process by which the Jerusalem Municipality determines which buildings to demolish and in what order. Given such opacity, critics argue, there’s no way of knowing if the municipality’s demolition orders are motivated by the activities of the buildings’ owners or tenants.

In 2021, 177 structures in East Jerusalem were demolished for lack of permits.

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