RAMALLAH // Israel demolished on Tuesday the houses of Palestinians who carried out lethal attacks on Israeli civilians, fast-tracking the implementation of a controversial policy previously on hold.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization denounced the move, calling for all Palestinian factions to form “a national front against Israeli aggression”.
PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said it was an “intentional targeting and collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population”, and “a reminder ... of the urgent need for international intervention to protect the occupied Palestinian people from relentless attack by the Israeli military forces and terrorist settlers”.
One of the homes demolished on Tuesday belonged to the family of cousins Ghassan and Uday Abu Jammal, who last year killed four rabbis at the Har Nof synagogue in West Jerusalem. The pair opened fire and then attacked worshippers at the synagogue with axes. The Abu Jammal cousins, whose family house was located in East Jerusalem's Jabal Mukkaber neighbourhood, were shot and killed on the scene.
The other was the family home of Muhammad Jaabis, also in Jabal Mukkaber. Jaabis allegedly carried out a bulldozer attack in Jerusalem in August 2014 and was shot by Israeli forces.
His family tried to petition Israel’s high court of justice in October 2014 to reverse the decision to demolish their home, to no avail.
Their lawyer claimed that Jaabis’ vehicle had spun out of control and that it was a traffic incident, but the prosecution argued that evidence pointed to a terror attack.
The Israeli army said on Tuesday that “the IDF ... will not hesitate to take all the legal steps at its disposal in order to hurt terrorists and the elements that aid them in order to deter further terror attacks”.
Israel’s security cabinet met on Monday night and decided to fast-track the demolition of “terrorist” homes and to use detention without charge against rioters.
Israeli forces have also made preparations to demolish other properties, including a room in the house of Mutaz Hajazi — in Jerusalem's Abu Tor neighbourhood. The destruction of a single room is considered by Israel to be a lesser punitive measure.
In October 2014, Hijazi tried to assassinate far-right rabbi Yehuda Glick who advocates for an increased Jewish presence inside the Al Aqsa compound. Hundreds of Israeli border police later stormed the Hijazi family home and shot him on the roof.
The family home of Nur a-Din Hashiya, who stabbed Israeli soldier Almog Shilony to death in November, was also scheduled to be demolished on Thursday.
Speaking to The National from the Askar refugee camp, near Nablus, Nur's brother Khaled said the demolition policy was a double-standard. Khaled lived in the house with nine members of his family.
“You don’t see the houses of those that killed the Dawabshe family members being demolished,” he said, referring to the Palestinian family that was killed in July when Jewish extremists set their West Bank home on fire.
“They are allowing the settlers to run free and create violence and they are restricting us from Al Aqsa and violating our olive trees. All the while the army is protecting them,” he added.
“Life in the camp is already hard, we live under siege,” Khaled said. “I have started asking around for a place to rent.”
Mr Erekat vowed on Tuesday: “The Palestinian leadership will not remain silent. We continue to report all Israeli crimes committed against our people to the International Criminal Court...The only way toward a just and lasting peace is for Israel to end its belligerent occupation of Palestine.”