Israeli security forces demolished the family homes of two Palestinian men from East Jerusalem who carried out terror attacks against Israelis over the past year, the IDF said Tuesday morning, as Israel’s government vowed to crack down on a wave of terror.
A room in the home of a third terrorist was also sealed off in possible preparation for demolition.
All three men were killed during or after the attacks they carried out last year, which left a total of six people dead.
“Overnight, and in accordance with the directive of the minister of defense, Moshe Ya’alon, security personnel demolished the residences of Ghassan Abu Jamal and Muhammed Naif El- Jaabis and sealed off a room in the residence of Mu’taz Ibrahim Halil Hijazi in Jerusalem,” the Israeli army said in a statement.
Jaabis, 23, from Jabel Mukaber rammed an earthmover into a bus on August 4 last year, during Operation Protective Edge, killing an Israeli and wounding five. He was shot dead by police at the scene.
Abu Jamal was one of two brothers who on November 17 last year attacked a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood with meat cleavers and a gun, killing four men at prayer as well as a Druze policeman. The two attackers were killed at the scene.
In video shot from East Jerusalem, an explosion can be heard, followed by loud shouting.
An AFP journalist saw the gutted inside of a house in East Jerusalem that witnesses said was the former residence of Abu Jamal.
Yasser Abdu, 40, a neighbor and friend of the Abu Jamals, accused Israel of a “policy of collective punishment.”
The demolition explosion, which took place at approximately 5:20 a.m. (0220 GMT), blew out the interior of the structure but the supporting pillars remained intact, an AFP journalist said.
The blast damaged other apartments in the building as well as surrounding structures.
Eyewitnesses said police and other authorities arrived Monday at midnight, locking down the area before drilling and planting the explosives.
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Hijazi, 32, of Abu Tor on October 29 last year tried to gun down far-right Jewish activist Yehudah Glick, critically wounding him. Hijazi was shot dead the following morning during a police raid.
An AFP reporter on the scene said the area had been closed off and helicopters were flying overhead.
The demolitions came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to expedite the punitive measures following a surge in terror attacks and general violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent weeks surrounding tensions on the Temple Mount.
The families of the three terrorists were notified of the demolition orders last year. It is not clear if any of them appealed the order with the Supreme Court, or if they have exhausted legal options available to them.
Last year, Israel demolished the home of Palestinian terrorist Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, 21, from Silwan, who rammed his car into pedestrians in the capital, killing a three-month-old baby and a woman before being shot dead by security forces.
Netanyahu on Monday charged Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) with setting up a mechanism that would expedite home demolitions of Palestinian terrorists.
“We are not prepared to give immunity to anybody, not to any rioter… or any terrorist, anywhere, and therefore there are no limits on the activities of the security forces,” he said ahead of a special session of his security cabinet.
The measure was one of several announced Sunday and approved Monday during the five-hour overnight security cabinet meeting relating to a crackdown in response to the recent wave of Palestinian terror that claimed the lives of four Israelis in five days in two separate terror attacks Thursday and Saturday.
Netanyahu asked Shaked to find ways to shorten the legal process to demolish terrorists’ home, in the reintroduction of a controversial Israeli policy popular in the days of the Second Intifada.
The Defense Ministry ended the policy in 2005, but the IDF did destroy one home in East Jerusalem in 2009 and sealed up two others in the same year, according to left-wing Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
Netanyahu convened his security cabinet Monday night to discuss measures to counter the escalation of the Palestinian conflict, and said he was sending thousands of additional police and soldiers into Jerusalem and West Bank areas in order to restore security for Israelis.
He also ordered a wider use of administrative detentions for suspects and the banning of those who incite to terror from Jerusalem’s Old City and the Temple Mount, following three terror attacks in five days in which four Israelis were killed and three wounded, including a toddler.
AFP contributed to this report.