MKs visit east J'lem to push for demolition of terrorists' homes

Right-wing MKs say terrorists' families should be restricted from doing business in the capital.

October 5, 2008 21:05
3 minute read.
isawiya 298 AJ east jerusalem

isawiya 224.88 AJ. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])


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Right-wing MKs and a Jerusalem city councilman led a tour of some of the Arab areas of Jerusalem on Sunday to underscore what they say is the urgent need to demolish local terrorists' homes. Terrorists' families should be restricted from doing business in the capital, they said, and more should be done to combat illegal construction and tax evasion in the city's Arab neighborhoods. MKs Uri Ariel and Eli Gabai, both from the National Union/National Religious Party, along with their Jerusalem representative, David Hadari, took reporters to the homes of recent east Jerusalem terrorists. Along the way, they cited various cases of what they see as gross hypocrisy in dealing with the recent phenomenon of local Arabs carrying out terrorist attacks. "We are seeing a contagious disease here," Gabai said, as he stood near the entrance to Jebl Mukaber - home to both the Mercaz Harav gunmen who murdered eight yeshiva students in March and the so-called BMW terrorist, who on September 22 drove into a crowd of soldiers outside the Old City walls. "After the first attack we saw another attack, followed by another attack - and that's simply because we didn't destroy the terrorist's home after the first time it happened," Gabai said. In light of government inaction on the issue, Gabai said, he had proposed amendments to an existing law, which call for terrorists' homes to be destroyed immediately and for the red tape that has stalled the process in the courts to be eliminated. "East Jerusalem is getting free education and other municipal services, just like the rest of the city, but we haven't heard anything from the government about stopping these attacks," Gabai said. "Ms. Livni, what do you think we should do to keep Jerusalem safe?" Hadari said he had tried numerous initiatives to deal with terrorists' families who continue to operate successful business in the capital. "We've tried to take action, even with smaller things like taking away the work contracts of the families involved," he said. "The Mughrabi family [of the BMW terrorist] makes a fortune in the building business, and the family of the Mercaz Harav terrorist has a thriving taxi business, but the courts won't let us do anything about it." "We also know that 250 meters of the Mercaz Harav terrorist's home is built illegally, but it has not been taken down," Hadari said. "Meanwhile, an Israeli in west Jerusalem would lose his portfolio if it wasn't constructed according to code. "Furthermore, 70 percent of east Jerusalem residents either owe money on their property taxes or haven't paid them at all. That situation is absolutely unheard of in west Jerusalem." As the tour moved away from Jebl Mukaber, the MKs got out on the road between Armon Hanatziv and Sur Bahir, where Hosam Dwayyat, the first bulldozer attacker, had lived. His family's home still stands on the outskirts of the village. "I'd like to see three things happen," MK Ariel said as he stood on the road. "First is education; residents of east Jerusalem should not be learning to hate Jews, especially in Jerusalem Municipality-run schools. "The second thing is law and order; the same laws that apply to west Jerusalem apply here as well. And the third thing I'd like to see is more building for Jews in the area," he said, waving his hand to a nearby field and surrounding barren hills. "This whole area can be built on, and I'm not talking about one or two houses," Ariel said. "We could put 20,000 homes here, and there's no reason to fight with the Arabs about it." Not all Jerusalem residents agree. "On the one hand, I'm glad that the Knesset members are interested in east Jerusalem because it affects all of our lives," said Sarah Kreimer, associate director of Ir Amim, a nonprofit organization that works to better Israeli-Palestinian relations in Jerusalem. "I'm sure they saw that the situation there was one of dire neglect on the level of public infrastructure and services, which we can see as being detrimental to the welfare of the city as a whole." Commenting on the plight of east Jerusalem residents, Ariel told reporters earlier in the day: "Someone who uses his BMW to attack a crowd of pedestrians is not coming from a place of poverty or dire straits. This is someone who comes from a home where he was taught to hate Jews and that it was permissible to kill Jews because of that hatred."

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