Israel prepares to demolish family home of Palestinian gunman | Israel-Palestine conflict News
Israel has sealed off the family home of a Palestinian who killed seven Israelis on Friday as part of punitive measures targeting family members.
Israel has sealed off the home of a Palestinian man who killed seven people outside a synagogue in occupied East Jerusalem, in a preliminary step ahead of the building’s expected demolition.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet has moved to approve other punitive measures against the families of Palestinian attackers, including the possibility of stripping them of citizenship rights and deporting them, and promised to expedite gun licenses for Israeli citizens to shoot Palestinians.
The moves by Israel, along with escalating violence that has seen 34 Palestinians killed this month alone, fueled tensions further as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in the region. Blinken’s high-profile diplomatic act, largely focused on restoring calm, begins on Monday after completing a brief visit to Egypt.
Earlier on Sunday, Israeli police sealed off the occupied house in East Jerusalem of the Palestinian Khairy Alqam (21), who killed seven people and wounded three outside a synagogue on Friday evening. Alqam was killed in a shootout with Israeli officers.
Israeli police released footage of army engineers welding metal sheets over the windows of Alqam’s family home and welding the front door shut.
“We have sealed the house of the terrorist who carried out the terrible attack in Jerusalem, and his house will be demolished,” Netanyahu told his cabinet.
“We are not looking for an escalation, but we are prepared for any scenario. Our response to terrorism is a heavy hand and a strong, swift and precise response.”
The planned demolition is one of a series of punitive measures, including plans to “strengthen” its occupied West Bank settlements, announced by Israel in the wake of recent shootings.
Netanyahu’s office also said the government would seal the family home of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who shot two Israelis on Saturday. The boy’s victims were both seriously wounded.
Israel routinely demolishes the homes of Palestinians who kill Israelis, a move long decried by human rights organizations as collective punishment.
Dani Shenhar, a legal expert at the Israeli rights group HaMoked, said the overnight closure of Alqam’s home demonstrated the government’s desire for “revenge against the families”.
The measure was carried out “with complete disregard for the rule of law”, he said, adding that HaMoked would launch a protest with Israel’s attorney general.
Netanyahu’s office also said it was moving forward with plans that could strip the residency and citizenship rights of the families of Palestinian attackers and potentially deport them to the occupied West Bank.
The punitive measures announced are in line with proposals from Netanyahu’s far-right political partners, whose support enabled him to return to power in late December.
Invasions and shootings
The weekend shootings followed a deadly Israeli raid on Thursday in the occupied West Bank that killed 10 Palestinians, mostly armed fighters. In response, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired rockets into Israel, prompting a series of Israeli airstrikes in response.
The deaths of two more Palestinians on Sunday brought the Palestinian death toll from fighting this month to 34.
The Palestinian health ministry said an 18-year-old Palestinian died on Sunday after being shot by an Israeli security guard near the settlement of Kedumim in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army said a settlement security guard saw Karam Ali Ahmad Salman armed with a pistol outside the settlement and shot him.
The ministry also confirmed the death of a 24-year-old Palestinian man, Omar al-Saadi, who was wounded in Thursday’s deadly Israeli attack on Jenin’s refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.