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Analysis

Palestinian donations buy a new house for terrorist’s family

Millions of shekels gifted toward the rebuilding of attackers’ homes demolished by Israeli army

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Israeli police near the scene of a stabbing attack in the Old City of Jerusalem on October 3, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli police near the scene of a stabbing attack in the Old City of Jerusalem on October 3, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The family of Muhannad Shafeq Halabi, a terrorist who killed two Israelis in a stabbing attack that marked the start of the latest wave of violence, on Tuesday acquired a new house with the help of funds raised from the Palestinian public.

The family’s home in the town of el Bireh was demolished by the IDF on January 9.

The new house was purchased with public donations via a campaign called “Building Houses for Free Men,” which seeks to rebuild the homes of Palestinian attackers that were demolished by Israel.

The campaign places glass collection boxes along the main streets of Palestinian villages, and cities and the public fills them with banknotes over a week or two.

Over several weeks, the campaign collected millions of shekels’ worth of donations, funding, among other things, the purchase of the house.

Muhannad Shafeq Halabi, 19, who killed two Israelis on October 3, 2015 in a terror attack in Jerusalem's Old City. (Israel Police)
Muhannad Shafeq Halabi, 19, who killed two Israelis on October 3, 2015 in a terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Israel Police)

Halabi, 19, a student at Jerusalem’s Al Quds University and a member of Islamic Jihad, killed Nehemia Lavi and Aharon Banita in Jerusalem’s Old City in October. They were the first Israelis killed in a knife attack in an ongoing, six-month wave of Palestinian stabbing, car-ramming, and shooting attacks.

Since then, Halabi has enjoyed the status of a hero in Palestinian society, mainly in Ramallah.

His father, Shafiq, signed the purchase papers for the new house on Tuesday.

Part of the Israeli order to demolish the family’s old home in el Bireh forbade the family from rebuilding on the same site.

The victims of a fatal stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Saturday October 3, 2015: Nehemia Lavi, 41 (left) from Jerusalem, and Aharon Banita (Bennett), 22 (right) from Beitar Illit. (Courtesy)
The victims of a fatal stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Saturday October 3, 2015: Nehemia Lavi, 41 (left) from Jerusalem, and Aharon Banita (Bennett), 22 (right) from Beitar Illit. (Courtesy)

The new home, a two-story house, is located in the Albasatin neighborhood of Abu Kash, a village near Ramallah.

It is 360 square meters (3,875 square feet) in size, and sits on a 600-square-meter (6,460-square-foot) plot, which is registered in the name of the new owner. The purchase cost 124,000 Jordanian dinars (approximately NIS 661,000 or $173,300), of which 24,000 dinars (NIS 129,100 or $33,850) has already been paid.

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