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Halamish attacker's home to be demolished as Israeli ministers call for death penalty

July 23, 2017 11:41 P.M. (Updated: July 24, 2017 1:28 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that the home of Omar al-Abed would be punitively demolished after the 19-year-old Palestinian stabbed and killed three Israeli settlers on Friday, as several Israeli officials called for the death penalty to be imposed on al-Abed.

Al-Abed was shot and moderately wounded after breaking into a home in the illegal settlement of Halamish in the central occupied West Bank and carrying out a stabbing attack that killed Yosef Salomon, 70, and his adult children, Chaya, 46, and Elad, 36, and left Salomon’s wife Tova seriously wounded.

The deadly attack took place after three Palestinians were killed -- two of them by Israeli police and one reportedly by an Israeli settler -- when large-scale civil disobedience demonstrations against Israeli measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound erupted into violent clashes earlier on Friday, in which hundreds more unarmed Palestinians were wounded by Israeli forces.

During Sunday’s security cabinet meeting, Netanyahu denounced the killing of the Salomons at the hands of “a beast incited by Jew-hatred,” adding that “the home of the loathsome terrorist will be demolished as soon as possible.”

Netanyahu fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in an effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals since the beginning of a wave of violence across the occupied Palestinian territory in late 2015, despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has condemned the practice of punitive home demolitions and work permit confiscations as "court-sanctioned revenge" carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment.

Netanyahu’s statement came as a number of high-ranking, far-right Israeli officials -- including Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked -- called for al-Abed to be executed for murdering the Salomons.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli news outlet Ynet on Sunday that the death penalty was “appropriate” in “such an extreme case.”

While The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli military courts had not carried out the death penalty since 1962, Israeli forces have been accused for years of carrying out “shoot-to-kill” policies, effectively executing scores of Palestinian attackers and alleged attackers on the scene when they could have been detained or disarmed through non-lethal means.

Lieberman added that in addition to demolishing al-Abed’s home, Israeli authorities were planning on revoking work permits and entry permits to Israel of all of the Palestinian’s extended family -- an oft-used measure against the relatives of alleged Palestinian attackers which has also been condemned as constituting collective punishment.

He also went on to accuse the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Hamas movement, and parliamentarians representing Palestinian citizens of Israel of “incitement,” adding that Israeli authorities “need to think about how to outlaw the Balad movement” -- one of the parties of the Arab Joint List in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

Lieberman also downplayed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement that the PA was suspending its controversial security coordination with Israel over the increased security measures at Al-Aqsa.

"It's not like the security coordination is an Israeli need,” Lieberman told Ynet. “It's a Palestinian need first and foremost. If they want it, they'll continue, if not they won't."
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