Netanyahu orders homes of ‘terrorists’ demolished

Netanyahu orders homes of ‘terrorists’ demolished
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed officials to raze the homes of ‘terrorists’ who carry out attacks in Jerusalem.

The order was handed down during an emergency session on Thursday to discuss several violent incidents that have hit the city, the Times of Israel reports, citing Israel Radio.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Police Chief Yohanan Danino and Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) head Yoram Cohen were all in attendance.

Apart from the highly controversial practicing of home demolition, additional security measures, including expanded administrative detentions and additional restraining orders, were also discussed.

The measures come in response to a series of deadly hit and run attacks which have recently targeted the holy city.

On Friday, Shalom Badani, a 17-year-old Israeli, died from injuries he sustained during an attack on Wednesday, in which Ibrahim al-Akari, a Palestinian Arab residing in East Jerusalem, rammed his van into a crowd. Akari was later shot dead by Israeli security forces after exiting his vehicle and attacking the crowd with a metal bar. A police officer was also killed in the attack. Twelve other people sustained injuries.

Later the same day, a vehicle rammed into a group of Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank. Three people were injured in that attack, one of them seriously.

And in a similar incident late last month, a Palestinian man from East Jerusalem rammed his car into a crowd outside a light rail station. A three-month-old baby girl was killed in the attack and eight others were injured. The attacker was later shot dead by police.

Islamist militant group Hamas has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Hours after the Akari incident, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called on Israel to demolish the homes of terrorists as a punitive measure to dissuade potential attackers; nearly 10 years after Israel discontinued the controversial practice.

In February 2005, the Israeli Ministry of Defense ordered an end to the demolition of houses unless there was "an extreme change in circumstances." That same year, an Israeli Army study found there was no conclusive evidence the practice deterred terrorism. The ministry at the time argued home demolitions were in fact counterproductive and could potentially incite more violence.

The practice is banned under the Geneva Convention unless “such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations."

Rights groups have long criticized the practice as an illegal form of collective punishment.

‘Jerusalem will always be ours’

Meanwhile, on Friday Netanyahu lashed out at critics who said building over the green line – which separates West and East Jerusalem – undermined the peace process.

“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and it is not a settlement,” the Jerusalem Post cites Netanyahu as saying during a meeting with the new European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini.

The Israeli PM said that the neighborhoods where Jews were living and building “have been in the hands of Israeli governments for the last 50 years.”

He continued that any such neighborhoods would remain a part of Israel under any peace arrangement, rejecting as “false” any claim that settlement construction lies at the root of the ongoing conflict.

He called European politicians who had called for the unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood “irresponsible.”

Last week, Sweden became the first Western European state in the EU to officially recognize the State of Palestine.