(photo credit: REUTERS)
The home of a Palestinian terrorist killed after carrying out a savage attack in October on an Egged bus in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv, located next to his Arab Jebl Mukaber neighborhood, was ordered to be demolished by the government this week.
According to the Arab news organization, WAFA, the family of Baha Elian – one of two terrorists who killed three Jewish men and wounded 10 other passengers on the bus with gunfire and knives – was served with official papers on Tuesday.
Haim Haviv, 78, Alon Govberg, 51, and Richard Lakin, 76, were murdered in the bloody October 12 attack, which made international headlines and rattled the nation.
Last month, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment against Elian’s accomplice, Abu Ghanem, who was arrested at the scene by police, for three murders and seven counts of attempted murder.
Ghanem, 21, also of Jebl Mukaber, had been a supporter of Hamas for several years when Elian contacted him on the day of the murders, telling him that he had obtained NIS 20,000 to carry out an attack against Jews, the indictment stated.
The indictment included extensive details about how the attack was planned.
It stated that Ghanem and Elian expressed deep anger about purported “break-ins at al-Aksa Mosque” and at “settlers for murdering Palestinian children,” referring to false allegations that have been propagated by radical Islamist groups.
Since the terror wave gripped the capital in early October – largely fueled by Palestinian incitement – the government has expedited demolition orders against all terrorists responsible for Israeli murders.
However, the measure is not without vocal critics among human rights groups.
“The people who bear the brunt of the [punitive] demolitions are relatives – including women, the elderly, and children – whom Israel does not suspect of involvement in any offense,” said B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group.
“In the vast majority of cases, the person whose actions prompted the demolition was not even living in the house at the time of the demolition,” the group claimed.
While the objective of such home demolitions is to serve as a powerful deterrent against terrorism, B’Tselem stated that the “deterrent effect of house demolitions has never been proven.”
“Since this constitutes deliberate harm to innocents, it is clear that even if house demolitions had the desired deterrent effect, it would, nevertheless, remain unlawful,” the group added.
Moreover, Amnesty International has contended that the demolitions of terrorists’ homes is in contravention to international law “which places clear limits on the actions which an occupying power may take in the name of security.”
“The absolute prohibition on collective punishment is one of the most important of these rules,” it added, noting that “collective punishment is never permissible under any circumstances.”
Nonetheless, supporters of the Draconian measure resolutely assert that home demolitions remain one of few options – apart from deportation and rescinding state aid – in dealing with an enemy that strikes children, elderly men and women, and police officers indiscriminately.
Authorized demolitions have been carried out in both Jerusalem and the West Bank since the terror wave started on October 1.
It remains unclear when Elian’s residence will be razed, or if the family can appeal the order.