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Drugs could have caused attack

01 December 2010, 22:30

Jerusalem - A Palestinian who drove a bulldozer into a bus and cars in Jerusalem in 2008 could have been under the influence of drugs rather than carrying out an anti-Israeli attack, the army said on Wednesday.

Ghassan Abu Tir injured at least 16 people when he ploughed a bulldozer into several vehicles on July 22 2008 before being shot dead by police.

The incident, several weeks after another Palestinian driving a bulldozer killed three people, was denounced as an act of terrorism, after which the army said it would demolish Abu Tir's family home in Umm Tuba in occupied east Jerusalem.

But the army on Wednesday confirmed that it had rescinded a decision to raze the family's home after toxicology results showed traces of ecstasy and cannabis in Abu Tir's blood, which raised questions about his motivation for the attack.

"In the light of the results of a blood test in which traces of drugs were found, and in the light of the medical opinion which we received, and after consultations with the state prosecutor which raised some doubt ... it was decided not to carry out the recommendation to destroy the house," it said.

Israeli legal rights organisation HaMoked said it had filed an objection to the demolition after receiving the pathology report.

Israel has since 2002 routinely demolished the homes of Palestinians accused of anti-Israeli attacks, arguing that the controversial practice would deter future attackers.

The policy has been condemned by human rights groups, which say it amounts to collective punishment and a war crime.


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