Army to Demolish East Jerusalem Home of 'Digger Attack' Terrorist's Family

Home of Mohammed Ja’abis' family will be fourth demolished since policy was reactivated last August.

Gili Cohen
Nir Hasson
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The defense establishment has officially told the family of the perpetrator of a fatal attack on a bus last August that it intends to demolish its East Jerusalem home. 

The terrorist, Mohammed Ja’abis, was shot to death by Israeli security forces after attacking the bus with a construction vehicle in Jerusalem, an assault that killed Avraham Walles.

Ja’abis’ brother confirmed that the demolition order had been received from representatives of the Home Front Command, adding the family intends to take legal steps in order to prevent the demolition.

This is the first planned demolition of a terrorist’s home since the August demolitions that followed the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens hitchhiking in the West Bank.

Home Front Command soldiers also recently visited the homes of four “lone” terrorists who carried out recent attacks in Jerusalem, taking measurements and photographs in advance of more planned demolitions.

Defense establishment leaders support the move, claiming it has proven effective in the fight against terror, even though the practice was suspended for nine years after it was considered ineffective.

The defense establishment has renewed the home-demolition policy in the past year. In August, the homes of Hussam Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisheh, who were allegedly involved in the West Bank kidnapping, were demolished, while the home of Marwan Qawasmeh, who was also involved in the kidnapping, was sealed. Marwan Qawasmeh and Abu Aisheh were killed during an attempt to arrest them in September. The home of another terrorist, Ziad Awad – who was accused of murdering police officer Baruch Mizrahi last Passover eve – was also demolished.

In 2005, a military committee ruled that the demolition policy did not achieve its objective, and that the damage caused as a result of petitions to the court was greater than the advantages. The committee, which was appointed by then-IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon, recommended that the demolitions be discontinued, claiming they aroused hatred that was stronger than their value as a deterrent against acts of terror.

A senior defense establishment official said the demolition policy in those years was not effective because the terrorists’ families received money after the demolition to build a “bigger and more beautiful house,” according to various sources. However, the official claimed the latest demolitions were effective and have “proved themselves.”

Senior officials in the Shin Bet security service and the army expressed support in recent months for the demolition policy. At the same time, a security source emphasized that, prior to a decision to demolish a terrorist’s home – whether it be in East Jerusalem or the West Bank, each case would be examined individually.