Israel orders demolition of synagogue attackers' homes
21 November 2014, 11:42
Tel Aviv - Israel notified the families of four Palestinian attackers on Thursday that their East Jerusalem homes will be demolished, despite warnings that such punitive measures may be ineffective and counterproductive.
The homes belong to the families of two Palestinians who killed four worshippers and a policeman in a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, a Palestinian who killed an Israeli border policeman in a 5 November vehicle attack, and a hit man who shot a Jewish activist on 22 October.
A military spokesperson in Tel Aviv told dpa the families had 48 hours to appeal.
Israel's supreme court delayed the demolition of a fifth home belonging to a Palestinian from East Jerusalem who killed an Israeli by ramming a bulldozer into a passenger bus on 4 August.
A debate on that case was set for Monday.
Israel's biggest-selling daily, Yediot Ahronot, reported that during security consultations this week, the state's legal advisor, Yehuda Weinstein, said he felt "uneasy" about the controversial policy.
Israel's Shin Beit internal security organization called the punitive measure an effective deterrent, the daily reported, while the military said it was not.
On Wednesday, Israel blew up the East Jerusalem home of a Palestinian who killed a 3-month baby and an Ecuadorian woman in a 22 October vehicle attack.
US state department spokesperson Jeff Rathke urged Israel not to use demolitions as a punitive measure, calling them "counterproductive in an already tense situation".
"This is a practice, I would remind that the Israeli government itself discontinued in the past, recognising its effects", he said.
He also condemned an approval issued by a local Jerusalem planning committee to build 78 housing units in the East Jerusalem settlements of Har Homa and Ramot.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has for years rejected demands for a construction freeze in East Jerusalem, and planning continues on the municipal level.
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday condemned the slaying of four American, and one British Israeli as well as of a Druze Israeli policeman in a West Jerusalem synagogue as a "despicable terrorist attack".
In a statement, the Security Council expressed concern about increased tensions and called on leaders and citizens to "reject violence, avoid all provocations and seek a path toward peace."
In separate phone calls Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged both Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to de-escalate the situation, which will require them "to take a stand that may be contrary to extremists in their own domestic constituencies,", a spokesperson for Ban said.
After weeks of unrest and violence in and near Jerusalem, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, in an interview with Israel's Channel 10, warned against a religious war.
"The Intifada [uprising] that we are at the opening of or even at the beginning of today, and to which is being added the religious element, is of the utmost danger to the entire region", he said.
In response to the wave of violence, internal security minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch has eased firearm restrictions.
Security guards will be able to take their guns home at the end of their work day. Veterans of special forces will also be allowed to carry guns, as well certain residents of an expanded list of communities deemed to be located in risk areas.
Militants in the Gaza Strip meanwhile test-fired four rockets into the Mediterranean Sea over the past 24 hours, the Israeli military said.