Israel mulls razing homes of Arab-Israeli terrorists after Temple Mount attack
Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Sunday that he would consider razing the homes of Arab-Israeli terrorists, following a deadly attack by three Arab citizens at Jerusalem's Temple Mount holy site.
Friday's attack, carried out by three Arab-Israelis from the village of Umm al-Fahm, took the lives of two Israeli police officers and threatened to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
Erdan told the Ynet news site that the decision to demolish the homes of any terrorist hinges on whether the "phenomenon" of terrorism is likely to persist within the community in question, in this case Arab-Israelis.
Israel has a policy of deterrence in which the homes of Palestinian terrorists who carry out attacks against Israelis are demolished, often overnight.
But in cases of attacks perpetrated by Jews against Palestinians, the State has previously declined to demolish terrorists' homes.
"As we see more calls of support for these [Arab Israeli] terrorists, and as the likelihood that others will follow their example increases, we will have to consider the demolition of their homes as well," Erdan said.
"This is why the High Court of Justice decided against demolishing homes of Jewish terrorists, as this [terrorism] is not a phenomenon that receives broad public support," he said, referring to a ruling last month not to raze the homes of three Jewish terrorists who kidnapped, beat, and burned alive Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir in 2014.
The High Court affirmed in its ruling, however, that the anti-terror regulation that allows for home demolitions "applies equally to Arab terrorists and to Jewish terrorists, each case according to its circumstances."
It said that home demolitions were only justifiable as a means of deterrence, and therefore must be carried out in the immediate aftermath of the attack. In the Abu Khdeir case, the court ruled that too much time had past between the attack and the appeal to justify the demolition.
Erdan told Ynet that while he believes the majority of Israel's Arab citizens are law-abiding and prefer active police presence in their communities, "there are extremist, violent, inciting elements in their society."
- Rivlin denounces Arab leaders' 'feeble reactions' -
Both Erdan and President Reuven Rivlin also criticized Arab-Israeli lawmakers for not immediately condemning the attack at the flashpoint holy site, which instead drew ire from the Arab world after Israel implemented an exceedingly rare blanket closure of the site to visitors and worshippers and the cancellation of Friday prayers for the first time in decades.
Joint (Arab) List chairman MK Ayman Odeh's response to the attack on Friday was criticized as lukewarm, after he told Israeli Arabic-language radio station Radio A-Shams: "The struggle of Arab citizens is a political struggle and is by no means an armed struggle. We wholly oppose any use of firearms by our youths."
Odeh went on to criticize Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for closing the site, charging that he was attempting to "turn the conflict from a political conflict to a religious one."
"The government must respect the holiness of the Aqsa Mosque and enable the continuation of prayers on the site," Odeh said.
Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, and the Arab League all also accused Israel of using the attack as a smokescreen to bar Muslims form the site.
Rivlin denounced the "silence and feeble reactions" of Israel's Arab leaders on Sunday as "outrageous."
"Anyone who doesn’t denounce terrorism, is cooperating with it," he said.
"I did not hear their condemnations; certainly not on Friday. Maybe today, due to the heavy pressure that was applied," Erdan told Ynet.
Left-wing Meretz lawmaker Issawi Frej responded to Erdan's comments on Sunday, accusing him of exploiting Fridays attack to "instigate more incitement and hatred."
"Where were these threats when Israelis burned to death a Palestinian boy, or when an Israeli soldier murdered in cold blood Muslim and Christian Israeli citizens in Shfaram," she said, referring to the Abu Khdeir case and the murders of four Arab-Israelis in 2005 by a renegade IDF soldier.
"We do not fight hatred through discrimination," Frej added.
Israeli Arabs are descendants of Palestinians who remained after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
They now make up around 20 percent of the population, and say the state systematically discriminates against them.
(Staff with agencies)
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