Family home of Har Nof synagogue massacre terrorist sealed

"This kind of collective punishment is not moral," says east Jerusalem portfolio head.

July 1, 2015 21:21
2 minute read.
Kehillat Bnei Torah Synagogue

Worshippers at Kehillat Bnei Torah Synagogue in Har Nof‏. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Eight months after slaughtering four rabbis who were praying in a Har Nof synagogue, as well as a Border Police officer who attempted to save them, the government on Wednesday sealed the home of one of the two terrorists responsible for the attack in the Jerusalem neighborhood.

During the early morning hours, the family home of 22-year-old Uday Abu Jamal in southeast Jerusalem’s Jebl Mukaber neighborhood was evacuated and then cemented shut by a coterie of government officers.

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It remains unclear how many of the killer’s relatives lived in the residence, or why the home of his accomplice in the murders – Ghassan Abu Jamal, 32 – was spared.

The move came after the High Court of Justice rejected an petition from Abu Jamal’s family to spare the home.

The residence is expected to be razed in the coming months.

The attack took place on November 18, 2014, shortly after 7 a.m., when the cousins stormed the Har Nof neighborhood’s Kehillat Bnei Torah Synagogue, wielding axes, knives and a pistol to attack its more than 30 congregants.

According to witnesses, the terrorists shouted, “Allahu akbar!” before proceeding to kill and maim the victims.

The four rabbis they killed were Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, Kalman Ze’ev Levine, 55, and Moshe Twersky, 59, all residents of Har Nof. Kupinsky, Levine and Twersky held dual US-Israeli citizenship, having emigrated from America; Goldberg had made aliya from Britain.

Both of the killers died in a gunfight after shooting dead Druse police officer Zidan Saif, 30, a married father of a then-four-month-old daughter.

Less than 10 days after the massacre, the Interior Ministry said it would revoke the residency of Nadia Abu Jamal, the wife of one of the terrorists, and cancel all of her future monetary and social benefits from the state.

“Everyone who is involved in terrorism needs to take into account the effects it could have on family members as well,” said Interior Minister Gilad Erdan of the decision.

However, after learning of the home-sealing on Wednesday, Meretz city councilman Meir Margalit, who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio, condemned such collective punishment as unjust and immoral.

“In principal, my position is that this kind of collective punishment is not moral,” said Margalit by phone.

“We don’t know if the family even knew the intentions of the killer, and to punish all of the family is not moral, and is against international law.”

While Margalit said he would have no compunction about demolishing or sealing a home that was exclusively inhabited by the terrorist himself, he maintained that punishing his family was not befitting of a democratic nation.

“If it’s a house where just the terrorist lived, I have no problem with this, but if a family lives there with small children and grandparents, it’s not fair to punish all of them for something one of their relatives did without their knowledge or consent,” he said. “I expect the Jewish people to be more just, even in these extremes cases.”

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