Synagogue attack: Israeli officials to 'demolish the homes' of Palestinian attackers

The punitive measure has not been used frequently for years

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The Independent US

Israeli officials plan to demolish the homes of four Palestinian men, including two assailants who killed five people in a synagogue earlier this week.

Relatives of Palestinian officials said that demolition notices had been handed out, after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would step up home demolitions as a punitive measure in the wake of a series Palestinian attacks on Israelis this month.

Eleven people have died in five separate incidents in recent weeks — most of them in Jerusalem, but also in Tel Aviv and the occupied West Bank. At least five Palestinians involved in the attacks were killed.

The policy has attracted heavy criticism, and had not been used for frequently for years, but Israeli officials resumed the practice to deter potential attackers. 

Said Abu Jamal, a cousin of pair who attacked the synagogue, said police summoned their families on Thursday and issued the demolition orders.

In the deadliest attack on Jerusalem since 2008, the two Palestinian cousins from east Jerusalem burst into a crowded synagogue on Tuesday morning, killing four worshippers and a Druze Arab policeman with meat cleavers and gunfire before they were shot dead.

The families of two other Palestinian, attackers Ibrahim al-Akari and Moataz Hijazi, received similar notices earlier today, according Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian Authority minister for Jerusalem affairs. An Israeli police spokesman said he was checking the report.

Security forces killed both al-Akari and Hijazi, after the former rammed his car into a Jerusalem light rail station, and the latter shot and seriously wounded an Israeli activist who has lobbied for greater Jewish access to a sensitive Jerusalem holy site in October.

The notices were distributed a day after Israel demolished the home of another man who drove his car into a train station last month, killing two people before he was shot dead by police.

The synagogue attack has been regarded as a turning point for the fresh wave of violence and tensions in the region over access to Jerusalem's most holy site - known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

Palestinians fear that the current status quo at the site, which has been in effect since Israel captured the area in the 1967 Mideast War, would be disturbed if Israel’s leaders allow Jews to pray there.

While Netanyahu and other moderate Israeli leaders have repeatedly denied the claim, nationalistic politicians have stirred tensions by visiting the controversial site.

Demonstrations against the Arabs, who make up 20 per cent of Israel’s 8million-strong population, by Israeli hard-liners have also resulted.

Tensions over the Jerusalem holy site have spilled into their community as well and Israeli police recently shot to death an Arab Israeli man who approached a police car wielding a knife.

Additional reporting AP