There have been several recent attacks on Israeli citizens perpetrated by Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. The latest was the attack last week in which a man drove a Caterpillar bulldozer through traffic, killing 3 people and injuring many more.
The first article below raises some interesting points regarding the attacks, but is confusing for the following reason: it persists in calling the most recent attack an act of terrorism, but at the same time cites facts that call this label into question.
Of course, this attack was an absolutely deplorable crime, but something is specifically a terror attack if it targets civilians for political purposes. And, as the first article below explains, this attack was carried out by a lone individual acting on his own, without links to or support from any larger organization. In addition, the article also reports that police are still searching for a possible motive and that the action was probably not premeditated.
Still, Barak and Olmert are ordering the homes of the perpetrators to be destroyed, a measure that the Israeli Attorney General has apparently deemed "permissible". Permissible or not, such demolitions are illegal, immoral, ineffective and hypocritical (after all, there are never calls to destroy the homes of Jewish Israeli terrorists). The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem has the following comment:
"…the demolition of houses as punishment is a grave breach of international humanitarian law. The declared objective of this policy is to harm innocent persons – relatives of suspected perpetrators, who are not accused of any criminal wrongdoing themselves. The demolition of houses is a clear case of collective punishment, which violates the principle that a person is not to be punished for the acts of another. Collective punishment is therefore illegal regardless of its effectiveness."
"Regarding effectiveness, a committee appointed by former Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon found that the house-demolition policy did more harm than good to Israel's security. The committee's finding undermines the claim that Israel has used for many years, that the policy deters potential terrorists."
In fact, as B'Tselem points out, such demolitions in the Occupied Territories were stopped 3 years ago because of their ineffectiveness. In the first article below, Harel and Issacharoff find it 'strange' that there should be such 'enthusiasm' for internationally illegal collective punishment if it is ineffective a protecting ordinary Israelis; Vice Premier Haim Ramon's affirmation Thursday (last article below) that the collective punishment must be carried out anyway, 'even if it does not achieve what it aims to achieve' is indeed a strange one. Strange that is, unless the Israeli government has some other aim in mind than the security of ordinary Israelis.
Judith Norman and Alistair Welchman
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
Terrorist or petty criminal run amok?
During the years prior to the Six-Day War, divided Jerusalem was rife with the phenomenon of the `mad Jordanian`: A soldier from the Arab Legion suddenly and with no apparent reason began taking shots at civilians on the Israeli side of the borders.
The Jordanians said that the man was crazy and in that way absolved themselves from any responsibility for his acts. Hussam Duwiyat, the terrorist who ran amok with a bulldozer in the middle of Jerusalem - and his neighbor, Ala Abu-Dahim, who murdered eight students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva four months ago - appear to be a Palestinian incarnation of the same modus operandi.
The Shin Bet security service agents who arrived at the home of the terrorist`s family in Sur Baher in East Jerusalem, are now looking for clues as to the motive behind the deed. They will try to find out when was the last time Duwiyat visited a mosque, and whether he heard there unusual words of incitement against Israel. Some of the terrorists who carried out attacks in recent years of their own volition, and with no links to any organization, had been driven to take action out of deep religious feelings.
The neighbors of the murderer Wednesday had contradictory observations to give the press about his character - from descriptions that he was `a regular guy` to calling him a petty criminal, but they all agreed that he did not regularly go to mosque.
Perhaps he was upset because of some personal experience, a quarrel with his Israeli supervisor at work or a random insult from a policeman. The probe into the attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva did not reveal any links between the killer and any organization. The shooter, Ala Abu-Dahim, was a born-again former criminal. His family said that he was shocked by the photographs of Palestinian civilians killed in the Gaza Strip during the Israel Defense Force`s operation `Hot Winter,` which ended several days prior to the attack.
This time around, the Gaza Strip is calm, but it seems that not every killer needs an immediate incentive.
During the past five years the security forces, primarily the Shin Bet, have had impressive success. The number of Israelis killed as a result of Palestinian terrorism dropped from 426 in 2002 to only 13 last year. Whoever argues that it is not possible to win decisively in the asymmetric warfare against terrorism, will have to agree that in the West Bank Israel has achieved this to the maximum degree possible.
But the two latest outrages in Jerusalem, in which one person attacks, is something for which an early warning based on intelligence is almost impossible. When the murderer is a lone terrorist, with no infrastructure backing him, and not having spoken about it, it is hard to stop him. In Wednesday`s incident, even the murder weapon did not prove to be a problem, as Duwiyat was an employee of a construction firm, the regular operator of a bulldozer.
The Arabs of East Jerusalem carry blue identity cards (but do not have citizenship), move about in the capital with no restraint, speak fluent Hebrew and do not raise suspicions. So when it comes to the residents of East Jerusalem, their interaction with the terrorist`s target population is inevitable.
Contrary to its image of serenity, the eastern part of the city has been active in terrorism during both intifadas: About 300 residents were arrested during the last eight years for their role in terrorism.
Precisely because the area is territory under full Israeli control, no real response is expected at this time. If Hamas is not responsible, and the Palestinian Authority is not to blame, Israel has no target against whom to retaliate. On the other hand, politicians outdid each other yesterday (including the prime minister and the defense minister), in aggressive declarations. It seems this time they will try to raze the home of the terrorist, a retaliatory act that was put on hold in the case of the attack on Mercaz Harav.
The enthusiasm for this initiative - a sort of magic formula - is strange. The IDF ceased razing homes in the West Bank in 2005 when a committee headed by Major General Ehud Shani concluded that destroying homes has not proved to be a deterrent, because it did more harm than good.
While Islamic Jihad lauded the bulldozer attack in Jerusalem, Hamas avoided expressing any enthusiastic support for the act. The family of the terrorist did not put up any Hamas flags on its home, and the family did not receive even a partial endorsement from the organization.
Irrespective of the questionable criminal record of the terrorist, it seems that the measured response of Hamas is linked more to the group`s wish to lower - at this time - its public visage in the confrontation with Israel. The attack in Jerusalem does not serve Hamas well at a time when it is mostly seeking to improve the living conditions in the Gaza Strip, and it needs Israel`s agreement in order to keep the crossings into the Strip open.
It is doubtful that the bulldozer operator had planned the attack in advance, but the attack took place under the media`s nose, in front of the building that houses foreign news outlets. The people who were passing in Jaffa Road, and all of Jerusalem, relived the terrible days of the intifada at its height, between 2001-2003. A serious attack in four months may undermine the sense of security that was restored with significant effort.
Even if most of those killed this year have been victims of an individual's attack in Jerusalem and rocket and mortar shelling from the Strip (both forms of terrorism that are hard to prevent), the statistics are troubling: 26 dead in six months. This number of victims is four times greater than last year.
Last update - 19:59 04/07/2008
Barak orders demolition of Jerusalem, yeshiva terrorists' homes
By Haaretz Service
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the Israel Defense Forces to issue injunctions calling to demolish the homes of two East Jerusalem men who had perpetrated terror attacks against Israeli civilians in Jerusalem, Army Radio reported Friday.
The first home to be demolished housed Hussam Duwiyat, who plowed a bulldozer into a string of vehicles in downtown Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing three people and wounding dozens more.
The second terrorist included in the injunction is Alaa Abu Dhaim who infiltrated the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem in March and gunned down eight students, also wounding many. Both perpetrators were killed by security forces during their respective attacks.
Barak's order was mainly based on Thursday's announcement by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz stating that razing homes of terrorists is permissable by law.
Mazuz informed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Barak that rulings made by the High Court of Justice over the years clarify there is no constitutional barrier to demolishing the home of a terrorist, although there are legal obstacles in both the local and international arenas that must be considered.
However, Mazuz warned Friday that the order could still raise legal difficulties in the international law arena as well as in Israel's law considerations.
A security source on Friday added that Barak's decision is not likely to be implemented immediately, but rather marks only the first stage in a process leading up to the actual demolition.
An alternative option that had been voiced in recent days was to seal off the home of the East Jerusalem terrorist, so as to avoid causing damage to two other families who also live in the same building.
In response to Barak's order, human rights group B'Tselem called on Mazuz "not to sacrifice justice and morality on the altar of revenge." The group said that security experts had in the past concluded that the demolition of houses does not deter potential terrorists from carrying out attacks. B'Tselem maintains that these demolitions actually serve to fuel terror rather than eradicate it.
Mazuz arrived at his ruling on Thursday that the demolition was permissable after in-depth discussions, held at his office and at the State Prosecution office over the question of whether Israel is permitted under the law to demolish the home of the East Jerusalem terrorists.
Prior to the discussions, the Shin Bet security service and the Military Advocate General submitted to Mazuz their legal opinion on the matter. Barak and Olmert also submitted their views, both backing the demolition of the terrorists' homes.
Mazuz added that "the individual examination of the circumstances of each incident must be carried out by the Shin Bet and the army in coordination with the Justice Ministry, as is customary."
Earlier Thursday, Olmert reiterated his call to demolish the East Jerusalem home of Wednesday's terror attack perpetrator.
"This is an attack which came from within Israel, into Israel. It creates a string of scenarios we never thought we would have to deal with in the past. We have invested thousands in the construction of a security fence. While it has been very effective, it turns out that a fence cannot give us the answer to the problem of terror which comes from our side," he said.
Speaking from the Ceasaria business forum in the southern port city of Eilat, Olmert also said the social benefits of the terrorist's family should be taken away in light of the attack.
"I think we need to be tougher in some of the means we use against perpetrators of terror," Olmert told the conference. "If we have to destroy houses, then we must do so, and if we have to stop their social benefits, then we must do so. There cannot be a case where they massacre us and at the same time they get all the privileges that our society provides," he said.
Ramon: Cut off parts of East Jerusalem from capital
Vice Premier Haim Ramon (Kadima) told Army Radio on Thursday morning that Israel should treat the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Jabel Mukaber and Zur Baher as Palestinian villages, and revoke the permanent residency status of their residents.
Wednesday's attacker came from Zur Baher, and Jabel Mukaber was the home of the Mercaz Harav terrorist. In the aftermath of both attacks, Ramon called for the two neighborhoods to be entirely cut off from Jerusalem.
"One of the main reasons that the attack was carried out yesterday with such ease was because there are Palestinian villages that for some reason are called Jerusalem - Jabel Mukaber and Zur Baher. They need to be treated as we treat Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin and Nablus," Ramon told Army Radio.
"These are Palestinian villages that were never part of Jerusalem, they were annexed to the city in 1967. No Israeli has ever been there, and doesn't go near there," Ramon added, continuing, "If the separation fence was west of the two villages, which we all call Jerusalem, it would have been a lot harder to carry out these kinds of attacks. It's forbidden for [residents of the neighborhoods] to have Israeli identification cards. How many more Israelis will have to pay with their lives until this is carried out?"
Ramon also told Army Radio that he felt, as opposed to the prime minister and his fellow ministers, that demolishing the home of the terrorist's family would not prevent the next terror attack. However, he said that the house should be demolished anyway, if the law allows it.
"I doubt that demolishing the house will achieve what it aims to achieve, though if possible, the house must be razed. The laws must be made to fit the policy and we mustn't give up," Ramon said. "What we are permitted to do, we must do as soon as possible."
On Wednesday, following the attack, Olmert and Barak called for terrorists' homes to be razed, and Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski echoed this sentiment.
Jewish Peace News editors:
Sarah Anne Minkin
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Jewish Peace News editors:
Sarah Anne Minkin
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to http://www.jewishpeacenews.net