Opinion |

Blotting Out ‘The Despicable Terrorist’

I won’t impugn the standards of a father who has lost his son, but the demolition of a family’s home is collective punishment, immoral, illegal and inhuman

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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The demolition of the homes of the men who carried out terror attacks in Jerusalem and at Ofra Junction, August 2017.
The demolition of the homes of the men who carried out terror attacks in Jerusalem and at Ofra Junction, August 2017.Credit: IDF spokesman
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky was killed about four months ago during a nighttime raid by the army on the Amari refugee camp near Ramallah. The soldiers who carry out these raids, which are no more than violent abductions of people from their beds, without any judicial oversight as in the darkest of regimes, are brutal by nature. At least some of them are pointless, except as an exercise and to instill terror in a helpless population. They’re carried out every night throughout the West Bank.

Israeli morality says that soldiers can break in anytime, anywhere and do whatever they want. They can beat people up, humiliate them, abduct them and arrest them, and sometimes beat people to death, as apparently happened last week to Mohammed Arimawi, who died after he was arrested under circumstances not yet clear. The Palestinians, according to this morality, must give in gladly, or at least not dare protect themselves, their families, their dignity or their property. Resistance is prohibited and only leads to one outcome.

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Islam Abu Hamid, 32, had the gall to go against this arrangement. He’s suspected of dropping a marble slab on soldiers who invaded his home, and of causing Lubarsky’s death. Abu Hamid was arrested and is now waiting for the show known as a military hearing; his punishment of course is a foregone conclusion.

But that’s not enough. The bereaved father, Vladimir Lubarsky, has launched a campaign to avenge the blood of his son, accompanied by the right-wing group Im Tirtzu and Yedioth Ahronoth, a newspaper that’s no stranger to any type of incitement. The father wants to see the entire home destroyed of the person who killed his son, and he can’t wait any longer. The army spokesman said a decision had been made to demolish two stories, but the father is waiting and the house is standing. It’s a scandal. And who can say no to a bereaved father, who luckily didn’t demand that the whole refugee camp be demolished?

About two weeks ago, the father wrote to the head of the Central Command, Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan, that it had been three and a half months and the terrorist’s house was still standing. He called it “a house that is not only the place of residence of a leading family of terrorists, but also the place where the attack was planned and the scene of the murder.”

A family of terrorists? An attack? Murder? Lubarsky is certain that his son’s actions saved the lives of people in Israel, and he has concluded: “The decision to demolish the terrorist’s house is a moral one of the first order.”

I won’t impugn the standards of a father who has lost his son, but the demolition of a family’s home is collective punishment, immoral, illegal and inhuman, even if the family’s son was a “despicable terrorist.”

Now Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in all his stature, has entered the picture. Anything of a moral nature touches him deeply, of course. “We are fighting terror with determination,” the minister tweeted in Hebrew. “We are going to demolish all four stories of the building where the despicable terrorist lived, may his name be blotted out, who murdered the IDF combat soldier Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky. It will be destroyed soon, there are no compromises in the war on terror. Only an iron hand.”

With Lieberman, anything goes; he’s the general waging the campaign against marble slabs and kites, someone who tweets like a bully to find favor with his base. Self-defense is murder, harming soldiers is terror, and it’s all despicable to the occupier who wants his subjects to give in. Dmitry Chomsky has written in Haaretz’s Hebrew edition that Abu Hamid is a fighter, not a terrorist. Any nation would consider him a hero.

Lieberman’s iron hand worked immediately and the army announced over the weekend that it had changed its mind and the whole building, all four stories, would be demolished, as a consolation prize for the father, the defense minister and the newspaper. Yedioth Ahronoth celebrated this impressive journalistic achievement with a worthy headline.

The deed is done. A man tried to protect his home. A fighter no less daring than the soldiers who invaded his home, a fighter without a uniform or a sophisticated weapon, and protection from no one, will go to prison, and the extended family will be thrown out onto the street.

This is what will be done to the despicable terrorist, may his name be blotted out, someone who dared to resist. That’s what he – and we – deserve.

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