More than 1,000 police personnel guarded soldiers who blew up the northeastern Jerusalem home on Wednesday of the family of a terrorist who killed a teenage yeshiva student and Border Police officer in a vehicular homicide in the capital in November 2014.
The demolition by controlled explosion in the Shuafat refugee camp, overseen by IDF engineers, was ordered after Ibrahim Akari, 47, a Hamas operative, drove his car into two groups of Israelis standing at the Shimon Hatzadik light-rail stop, just outside the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Shmuel Hanavi.
Akari, who struck 14 people in two collisions within 500 meters of each other, including four border policemen and 10 pedestrians, was shot dead by an officer after exiting his vehicle wielding a metal pipe to attack more bystanders.
Border Police Ch.-Insp. Jidan Assad, 38, from the Druse village of Beit Jann – a father of a then three-year-old son, whose wife was pregnant with their second child – was killed in the first collision.
Yeshiva student Shalom Aharon Badani, 17, grandson of Rabbi Shimon Badani, a member of the Shas Party’s Council of Torah Sages, was critically wounded in the second attack, and died two days later.
Badani was riding his bicycle to pray at the Western Wall.
Following the attack, Akari’s family said they were proud of him. His wife said that when he saw images of Palestinians during clashes with police forces at the Temple Mount earlier that morning “he rushed out to become a martyr and hero.”
One of Akari’s sons told reporters that his father was angry because of Jewish “incursions” at al-Aksa Mosque compound. Residents of the Shuafat refugee camp declared a day of mourning after his death.
The Palestinian Authority referred to the attack as a “car accident,” and the PA’s official news agency issued the headline: “Jerusalem driver dies in car accident that also injured Israelis.”
Hamas and its armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, described the terrorist attack as a “quality operation” and called on Palestinians to carry out more assaults against Israel, particularly in Jerusalem.
Immediately following the attack, which spurred protracted Arab rioting throughout east Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Interior Ministry to expedite the home demolitions of all terrorists.
One week after the murders, an Israeli court issued a demolition order for Akari’s family home, but the move was postponed due to security concerns. Last December the High Court rejected an appeal by the family to prevent the razing.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police acted with “determination and aggression toward anyone – minor or adult – who violated the peace, or tried to attack the forces operating in the area,” during the demolition.
Rosenfeld said the enormous police presence, aided by a police helicopter, ensured that no major incidents of violence took place when it was carried out at approximately 10:30 a.m.
“Israeli Police secured the area to prevent any immediate danger to officers,” he said.
“Everything went according to plan, with Special Patrol, Undercover and Counterterrorism units maintaining order.
Police stayed in the area throughout the day to ensure there was no rioting.”
Palestinian medics said 43 were wounded in clashes with Israeli policemen in the camp, during and after the demolition.
A video of the demolition was posted online shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile, Middle East Eye reported that Hatem Abdel Qader, a resident of the camp who previously served as a Palestinian legislative minister for Jerusalem, described the demolition as “a new war crime committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.”
“Israel thinks that these measures will deter Palestinians from the struggle, but this will not stop our defense of our land and of Jerusalem,” he said. “Punitive actions by Israel only add more oil to the fire.”
Qader added he would look into the possibility of asking the PA, whose jurisdiction does not exist in Jerusalem, to help the Akari family financially, the Arab news source reported.
According to camp resident Mohammed al-Rushdi, Israeli police entered the area at a time when most young men living there were at work.
“[The Israeli forces] seized the opportunity and went inside the camp at around 8:30 a.m.,” he told Middle East Eye. “What was strange was that before that, the checkpoint [that residents must cross if they are leaving the camp] was easy-going, and the soldiers manning the checkpoint were very relaxed.”
“Usually raids by Israeli occupation forces occur before dawn, but they planned it this time when they knew the men in the camp would be outside of it,” he said.
Rosenfeld said police will continue to carry out all demolition operations ordered by the criminal courts and government.
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report