Olmert: Destroy terrorist's home

PM to discuss possibility of house demolition with justice minister; Hamas: Attack "natural reaction."

Bulldozer attack victim  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Bulldozer attack victim
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hours after three people were killed when a terrorist in a bulldozer went on a rampage in downtown Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the attacker's east Jerusalem home must be destroyed. Olmert held consultations in his office following the attack and Jerusalem officials said that the prime minister was expected to discuss the possibility of destroying the terrorist's home with Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann. He is also set to discuss taking away National Insurance Institute (NII) rights from the terrorist's family. Following the attack, US President George W. Bush phoned Olmert and offered his condolences to the Israeli people. Olmert received news of the attack while in the Knesset plenum. Incidentally, the Knesset approved the first reading of a bill to take away the rights and even Israeli citizenship from terrorist's families. Likewise, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel should demolish the terrorist's home. In a telephone conversation with Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, Barak reportedly said that he did not understand why the house of the terrorist who perpetrated the Mercaz Haraz Yeshiva attack on March 6 had not yet been demolished, and promised that he would push for the structure to be torn down. Barak said such a move would convey an unequivocal stance against the perpetrators of such attacks. He blamed the State Attorney's Office for holding up the implementation of demolition orders. Lupolianski himself stated Wednesday that the bulldozer driver's home should be demolished. "Only by destroying the terrorist's home will we be able to send out a clear message and prevent other youngsters who want to perpetrate terror attacks and kill Jerusalem residents from carrying out their plans," he said at the scene of the attack. The mayor's daughter was on one of the buses rammed by the attacker, but was not wounded. "To our regret the attackers do not cease coming up with new ways to strike at the heart of the Jewish people here in Jerusalem," added Lupolianski. Speaking to reporters at the scene, Infrastructure, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai said urgent legislation must be passed to restrict the movement of east Jerusalem Arabs and allow the demolition of the homes of terrorists. Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said the results of the attack could have been far worse. "Civilians and police showed determination and prevented a far more devastating incident," Dichter said at the scene of the attack. "The terrorist took a vehicle that was used for work and utilized it to go on a murderous rampage." "One must remember that a third of Jerusalem residents are Arab, but all of Jerusalem is under Israeli sovereignty," he continued. "Anyone who thinks that they can sever chunks of Jerusalem and take them out of Israel's control is mistaken." Israel Beiteinu MK Yisrael Hasson also arrived at the scene and, like Barak and Lupolianski, stated that Israel must demolish the house of the terrorist. "This is the second incident coming out of [east] Jerusalem," he said. "I don't know a single Palestinian who asks himself what would be good for Israel. They are all plotting evil and I am glad that among the terror attacks are hundreds that security forces succeed in thwarting...If the Israeli government wavers as it did after the attack in Mercaz Harav we will be in very dire straits," he added. "We must demolish the terrorist's home." Saeb Erekat, Palestinian negotiator and aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the attack. "We condemn any attacks that target civilians, whether Israelis or Palestinians, and President Abbas has been consistent in his position to condemn any attacks, including the one in west Jerusalem, that targeted civilians," he said. Hamas said the terror attack was "a natural reaction to Israeli aggression." Nevertheless, a Hamas spokesman stressed that the group did not know who was behind the attack. The armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, the Quds Brigades, praised the attack. In a press release, the group echoed Hamas in saying that the attack was a "natural reaction to the crimes of the occupation."