Israel Targets Family of Jerusalem Synagogue Assailant, Blocks off House

JERUSALEM, July 1, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli authorities on Wednesday closed with metal bars the house of the family of Udai Abu Jamal, an East Jerusalemite who along with his cousin, Ghassan, attacked a synagogue in West Jerusalem on November 18 2014 and killed five Israelis, including a police officer.

WAFA correspondent said a large Israeli police contingent broke into al-Mukabir neighborhood in Jerusalem before dawn, where Abu Jamal’s house is located, and forced his family out of the house, before sealing off the doors with metal bars.

Even though the two men behind the attack were shot dead on the scene, Israeli police mounted the rooftop of Abu Jamal’s house and threw the family’s clothes and other belongings and furniture from the windows, our correspondent added.

Last November, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the destruction of the homes of Ghassan and Udai Abu Jamal in a clear act of retaliation, which is a form of collective punishment against innocent people.

Father of Ghassan Abu Jamal, Mohammad reportedly told the Wall Street Journal, “If I had known, I would have prevented him.”

The double standards behind the policy of home demolitions are hard to ignore. In the case of the heinous murder of Mohammad Abu Khudeir, a 17-year-old who was killed at dawn after being kidnapped, tortured, and burned alive by illegal Israeli settlers in Shuafat town south of Jerusalem, the families of the three Israeli assailants were not targeted or harmed for being related to those involved.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported in July 2014 that three of the six who were suspected of involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Abu Khdeir will be released from custody, after a rule made by the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court.

Israeli police and intelligence believed that the murder was committed by three main suspects; a 30-year-old man from a community near Jerusalem and two minors from Jerusalem.

While Israeli attackers are granted constitutional and legal rights, Palestinians who are suspected with involvement in attacks against Israelis are shot on the scene and the homes of their families are bombed and demolished, such as the case of AbdelRahman al-Shaloudi, who was suspected of ramming his car into pedestrians in Jerusalem.

Punitive demolition was a tactic frequently employed by Israel before Army Minister Shaul Mofaz decided to suspend it in 2005, after concluding it was not an effective method.

Since then the policy has been used occasionally – three times in East Jerusalem in 2009, and three times in the summer of 2014 in response to the killing of an Israeli policeman and the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli settlers.

Israel claims that the house demolition policy is effective; based on the assumption that harming the relatives of Palestinians who perpetrated, or are suspected of involvement in attacks against Israeli citizens and soldiers, Israel believes it would deter others from carrying out such attacks.

“Since this constitutes deliberate harm to innocents, it is clear that even if house demolition had the desired deterrent effect, it would, nevertheless, remain unlawful,” B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, says.

According to the Israeli Committee against House Demolition (ICAHD), “the policy of house demolitions has two goals: first, to make life so miserable for the Palestinians that they leave the country… Second, to drive Palestinians off their land in Area C and into Areas A and B.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) slammed Israel’s policy of demolishing the homes of suspected Palestinians and described it as a form of ‘collective punishment’ and a ‘war crime’. It further called for its immediate end.