The Israeli government is considering bulldozing the East Jerusalem home of the man who went on a deadly rampage in a front-end loader on Wednesday, officials said.
They said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak want to send a strong message to anyone considering similar attacks. Defence and legal experts were meeting Thursday to discuss the issue.
"We must use a punishment that would deter," a spokesman for Olmert said, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity. "We have to act with a tough hand, to negate social rights, to immediately destroy the homes of every terrorist in Jerusalem."
Israel used to have a policy of bulldozing the homes of those the government considered terrorists, with 1,500 homes destroyed in the Rafah region of the Gaza Strip alone between 2000 and 2004, according to the United Nations. But Israel recently pledged to end the practice at the urging of human rights groups, and any renewal of the policy is expected to spark legal challenges.
An estimated 20 people live in the family home of attacker Husam Taysir Dwayat, described in the media as a 30-year-old Palestinian father of two from the Sur Bahir neighbourhood. Soon after the attack, Israeli police raided Dwayat's home and arrested his father and one of his brothers, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Dwayat's attack came Wednesday afternoon in downtown Jerusalem. He drove a front-end loader onto a crowded street, plowing into cars and buses. Three people were killed and dozens injured before a police officer and an off-duty soldier climbed onto the loader and shot Dwayat, killing him.
Attacker 'went berserk'
Dwayat family's attorney, Shimon Kukush, told Israel Radio that Dwayat wasn't a member of a terrorist organization, but a man who "went berserk" and acted completely alone. He said Dwayat's family was devastated by Dwayat's actions and condemn them fully.
"The prime minister and the defence minister are sparring for the credit of who will demolish the family's house first, even before it is clear if he was a terrorist," Kukush told the radio station, according to the Post.
Neighbours told the Post that Dwayat, who worked for a private construction firm and once was married to a Jewish woman, was rumoured to be involved in criminal activities, not political causes. Some alleged Dwayat was a drug addict.
Some fringe militant groups have claimed responsibility for the attack — including Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, the Galilee Freedom Battalion and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The much larger group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and has a fragile ceasefire agreement with Israel, denied involvement. Still the group praised the attack.
"We consider it as a natural reaction to the daily aggression and crimes committed against our people," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
About one-third of Jerusalem's 700,000 residents are Palestinians, most of them living in East Jerusalem. The area was annexed by Israel in the 1967 war, and Palestinians want it returned and say it should be the capital of a Palestinian state.
Arab residents of East Jerusalem have full freedom to work and travel throughout Israel. They have the same blue identity cards issued to all Israeli citizens.
1st the guy is dead.
2nd, he wasn't a terrorist.
3rd, The only people who are going to suffer from this action are the people still living in that house.... what kind of cave man mentality do they have over there anyways?
People try and talk about Justice and Revenge..... well this wouldn't be any sort of justice. The justice already went into play when he was shot and killed.... case closed.... but oh no.... let's go and make other people who had nothing to do with it suffer.