JERUSALEM – Israeli forces demolished the east Jerusalem home of a Palestinian who carried out a deadly October attack, just hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised strict measures to deal with a rising wave of violence in the area.
The demolition in the Silwan neighborhood targeted the property of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, who killed two people last month when he drove his car into a crowd standing on a light rail platform in Jerusalem.
In recent weeks, a total of 11 people have died at the hands of Palestinian attackers — most in Jerusalem but also in Tel Aviv and the West Bank.
The victims include four Jewish worshippers and an Israeli policeman who were killed after two Palestinian cousins, wielding meat cleavers, knives and a handgun, stormed a synagogue in the west Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. The two assailants were shot to death by police afterward.
The attack was the deadliest in Jerusalem since 2008 and sharply escalated already high tensions after weeks of religious violence.
Responding to Tuesday's attack, Netanyahu said he had ordered security forces to hit back hard at Palestinians involved in violence against Israelis, and resume the policy of home demolitions, a punitive tactic that has caused much controversy in the past.
Sitting amid the rubble of the al-Shaludi family home demolished early Wednesday, his grandmother said she was proud of his actions.
"No one should feel sorry for us, for our demolished home," she said, refusing to give her full name for fear of reprisals.
Meanwhile, worshippers returned Wednesday to the scene of the attack, the Kehilat Bnai Torah synagogue, seeking comfort in prayer. One of them, Gavriel Cohen, said the attack showed "that our future in this world is dependent on God."
All four of the congregants killed in the attack immigrated to Israel from English-speaking countries — three from the United States, and one from Britain.
In recent weeks, Jerusalem has seen its worst sustained bout of violence since a Palestinian uprising a decade ago. Al-Shaludi's attack killed a 3-month-old baby girl and a 22-year-old woman as he rammed his car into the train stop before he was shot dead by police.
Much of the violence stems from tensions surrounding a contested hilltop compound in Jerusalem's Old City, its most sacred site. It is revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, the site of the ancient Hebrew temples. For Muslims, it is the Noble Sanctuary, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the iconic gold-topped Dome of the Rock.
Palestinians have been angered over stepped-up Israeli visits to the site, visits that many of them see as a provocation.
Punitive demolition was a tactic frequently employed by Israeli security forces before defense chiefs decided to suspend it in 2005 after concluding it was not an effective deterrent.
Since then it has been used occasionally — three times in east Jerusalem in 2009, and three times over the summer in response to the killing of an Israeli policeman and the murder of three Israeli teenagers.