Police prepare for clashes in E. J'lem neighborhood
Immediately after Wednesday's terror attack, Jerusalem police sent reinforcements to the Sur Baher neighborhood in East Jerusalem due to concerns violence could erupt in the area. District commander Aharon Franko instructed police to suppress signs of mourning in the village and prohibit symbols of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas or Palestinian nationalism altogether. Police were also ordered to prevent the erection of a mourning tent. District police officers yesterday were quick to enforce those orders and instructed the bulldozer driver's family to take down its mourning tent.
Based on past experience and intelligence gathering, the police are preparing to prevent violence by local Sur Baher residents as well as clashes with right-wing activists who could come to Sur Baher to protest the terror attack. Extreme rightists yesterday asked the police for a permit to march to the Hussam Duwiyat's home, but police have not granted it.
The activists said yesterday they plan to hold the march with or without a police permit. Police are concerned about losing control of the marchers, as occurred three months ago when a right-wing demonstration overflowed from Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv promenade into the neighborhood of the perpetrator of the Mercaz Harav attack. Demonstrators damaged homes, cars and property in Jabel Mukaber.
Because the perpetrators in the Jaffa Road and Mercaz Harav attacks were East Jerusalem residents, Vice Premier Haim Ramon suggested yesterday that the separation fence route be changed, leaving those two villages outside to the east. Ramon told Army Radio yesterday that Israel should treat the neighborhoods as Palestinian villages, and revoke the permanent residency status of their residents.
"One of the main reasons the attack was carried out yesterday with such ease was because there are Palestinian villages that for some reason are called Jerusalem - Jabel Mukaber and Sur Baher. They need to be treated as we treat Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin and Nablus," Ramon told Army Radio.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz yesterday informed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak that High Court of Justice rulings over the years clarify there is no constitutional barrier to demolishing the home of a terrorist.
Ramon also told Army Radio that he felt, as opposed to the prime minister and his fellow ministers, that demolishing the home of the terrorist's family would not prevent the next terror attack. However, he said that the house should be demolished anyway, if the law allows it.
"I doubt that demolishing the house will achieve what it aims to achieve, though if possible, the house must be razed," Ramon said.
Hussam Duwiyat's family yesterday expressed regret at the event, and claimed it was a traffic accident. Village Mukhtar Zohir Hamdan, as well as the family lawyer, and the perpetrator's father and brother, said they thought Duwiyat hit one vehicle by accident and when police started shooting at him, he panicked and drove away in an attempt to flee. Hussam's younger brother Yousif called the event a "huge surprise," which he said he heard about from Hussam's coworkers at the construction site.
Police interrogated family members yesterday afternoon, after asking them to remove the mourning tent and the family complied.
Knesset Internal Affairs committee chair Ophir Pines asked the Attorney General's Office to explain the state and the military legal branches' position on the demolition of terrorist homes and other deterrent measures.
The committee, which oversees the Public Security Ministry, will be discussing the Jerusalem terror attack on Monday. In a recent discussion of the Mercaz Harav attack, representatives of the Military Advocate General told lawmakers their office was preparing an opinion on home demolitions.
Likud party whip Gideon Saar is sponsoring private legislation that would allow the defense minister to confiscate homes and property from terrorists and their families. Saar submitted the bill after the Mercaz Harav attack, which he plans to raise for a preliminary reading next week.
Shas also announced plans to sponsor legislation that would facilitate house demolitions.