Barak Orders Demolition of Jerusalem, Yeshiva Terrorists' Homes

Mazuz: Demolition of terrorists' homes permissable by law; Ramon: Parts of East J'lem should be severed.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the Israel Defense Forces to issue injunctions calling to demolish the homes of two East Jerusalem men who had perpetrated terror attacks against Israeli civilians in Jerusalem, Army Radio reported Friday.

The first home to be demolished housed Hussam Duwiyat, who plowed a bulldozer into a string of vehicles in downtown Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing three people and wounding dozens more.

The second terrorist included in the injunction is Alaa Abu Dhaim who infiltrated the

  • Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem in March and gunned down eight students, also wounding many. Both perpetrators were killed by security forces during their respective attacks.

    Barak's order was mainly based on Thursday's announcement by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz stating that razing homes of terrorists is permissable by law.

    Mazuz informed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Barak that rulings made by the High Court of Justice over the years clarify there is no constitutional barrier to demolishing the home of a terrorist, although there are legal obstacles in both the local and international arenas that must be considered.

    However, Mazuz warned Friday that the order could still raise legal difficulties in the international law arena as well as in Israel's law considerations.

    A security source on Friday added that Barak's decision is not likely to be implemented immediately, but rather marks only the first stage in a process leading up to the actual demolition.

    An alternative option that had been voiced in recent days was to seal off the home of the East Jerusalem terrorist, so as to avoid causing damage to two other families who also live in the same building.

    In response to Barak's order, human rights group B'Tselem called on Mazuz "not to sacrifice justice and morality on the altar of revenge." The group said that security experts had in the past concluded that the demolition of houses does not deter potential terrorists from carrying out attacks. B'Tselem maintains that these demolitions actually serve to fuel terror rather than eradicate it.

    Mazuz arrived at his ruling on Thursday that the demolition was permissable after in-depth discussions, held at his office and at the State Prosecution office over the question of whether Israel is permitted under the law to demolish the home of the East Jerusalem terrorists.

    Prior to the discussions, the Shin Bet security service and the Military Advocate General submitted to Mazuz their legal opinion on the matter. Barak and Olmert also submitted their views, both backing the demolition of the terrorists' homes.

    Mazuz added that "the individual examination of the circumstances of each incident must be carried out by the Shin Bet and the army in coordination with the Justice Ministry, as is customary."

    Earlier Thursday, Olmert reiterated his call to demolish the East Jerusalem home of Wednesday's terror attack perpetrator.

    "This is an attack which came from within Israel, into Israel. It creates a string of scenarios we never thought we would have to deal with in the past. We have invested thousands in the construction of a security fence. While it has been very effective, it turns out that a fence cannot give us the answer to the problem of terror which comes from our side," he said.

    Speaking from the Ceasaria business forum in the southern port city of Eilat, Olmert also said the social benefits of the terrorist's family should be taken away in light of the attack.

    "I think we need to be tougher in some of the means we use against perpetrators of terror," Olmert told the conference. "If we have to destroy houses, then we must do so, and if we have to stop their social benefits, then we must do so. There cannot be a case where they massacre us and at the same time they get all the privileges that our society provides," he said.

    Ramon: Cut off parts of East Jerusalem from capital

    Vice Premier Haim Ramon (Kadima) told Army Radio on Thursday morning that Israel should treat the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Jabel Mukaber and Zur Baher as Palestinian villages, and revoke the permanent residency status of their residents.

    Wednesday's attacker came from Zur Baher, and Jabel Mukaber was the home of the Mercaz Harav terrorist. In the aftermath of both attacks, Ramon called for the two neighborhoods to be entirely cut off from Jerusalem.

    "One of the main reasons that 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 Zur Baher. They need to be treated as we treat Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin and Nablus," Ramon told Army Radio.

    "These are Palestinian villages that were never part of Jerusalem, they were annexed to the city in 1967. No Israeli has ever been there, and doesn't go near there," Ramon added, continuing, "If the separation fence was west of the two villages, which we all call Jerusalem, it would have been a lot harder to carry out these kinds of attacks. It's forbidden for [residents of the neighborhoods] to have Israeli identification cards. How many more Israelis will have to pay with their lives until this is carried out?"

    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. The laws must be made to fit the policy and we mustn't give up," Ramon said. "What we are permitted to do, we must do as soon as possible."

    On Wednesday, following the attack, Olmert and Barak called for terrorists' homes to be razed, and Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski echoed this sentiment.