Israel demolishes homes of Palestinian attackers; clashes persist
Israeli authorities Tuesday demolished the East Jerusalem homes of families related to two Palestinian men involved in attacking and killing Israelis and sealed off a third home belonging to relatives of another attacker.
The demolitions came hours after the Israeli security Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved taking harsher measures against Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis.
Israeli police, meanwhile, lifted a ban keeping nonresident Palestinians from entering Jerusalem’s Old City and removed all barriers set up at the gates leading to the city. Muslim men under age 50, however, are still prohibited from entering the Al Aqsa mosque compound.
After several weeks of unrest, tension between Israelis and Palestinians varied depending on location. Fewer clashes between police and protesters were reported in some Jerusalem neighborhoods. Tension remained high in some West Bank areas, mainly near Ramallah, where Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers.
The Palestinian Authority’s Health Ministry said at least 50 people were brought to hospitals and medical centers in the West Bank suffering light to medium injuries.
The homes demolished Tuesday were in Jabal al-Mukkaber neighborhood.
“We were asleep in bed when we heard powerful bangs on the doors and explosions,” said Shaker Jaabis.
His brother, Mohammed, last year rammed a tractor into vehicles on a Jerusalem road and overturned a bus. One person, an Israeli pedestrian, was hit by the tractor and killed. Mohammed Jaabis was shot and killed by Israeli security.
The other demolished home belonged to the Abu Jamal family, whose two sons, Ghassan and Udi, were involved in an attack on a Jewish synagogue last year, killing five Israelis.
Not far from the two buildings, Israeli forces sealed shut a house in Abu Tur neighborhood that belongs to the family of Mutaz Hijazi.
Hijazi shot and critically wounded a right-wing Israeli activist, Yehuda Glick, last year. He was shot dead by police at his Abu Tur home shortly after the attempt on Glick’s life. Glick survived.
In remarks at a meeting Tuesday in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that Palestinians are not looking for fights with Israel.
“We do not want a military or security escalation between us and them,” he said. “All our instructions to our security forces, our political groups and our people are that we do not want escalation.”
He said he was still looking for a political solution to the conflict with Israel “through peaceful means and absolutely nothing else.”
Abbas is strongly opposed to violence and had often said that he would not allow a new intifada, or uprising, in the Palestinian territories. He was strongly opposed to the second intifada that broke out in 2000 and put an end to it when he took office in 2005.
Israel announced that the extra forces deployed in Jerusalem and the West Bank would remain in place for the near future.
Abukhater is a special correspondent. Special correspondent Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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