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Thu 3 Jul 2008 04:43 PM

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Israel eyes demolition of Palestinian attackers' home

Authorities consider destroying home of man who killed 3 in bulldozer rampage.

Israeli authorities were on Thursday considering demolishing the home of a Palestinian man who went on a rampage in a bulldozer in Jerusalem and killed three people before he was shot dead.

While a military inquiry found the practice to be ineffectual in the past, much of the political establishment has come out in favour of tearing down the house of any Jerusalem Palestinian who conducts attacks in Israel.

"Following a request by the government, Attorney General Menahem Mazuz will look today into the legal problems that might be involved in demolishing the houses in east Jerusalem," justice spokesman Moshe Cohen told newswire AFP.

Israel law distingishes between Arab east Jerusalem, which it annexed after occupying it in the 1967 Middle East war, and the rest of the West Bank, which remains under military rule.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert raised the issue just hours after a Palestinian from east Jerusalem used a bulldozer to smash into vehicles on a deadly rampage in the heart of the city on Wednesday.

"The prime minister held consultations last night with the relevant government bodies and the military in the wake of the attack," Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev told AFP.

"They discussed different means of action" including revoking residency permits, scrapping social welfare benefits and house demolitions.

Olmert insisted that Israel would not hesitate, if need be, "to resort to dissuasive means or destroy houses," according to the Yediot Aharonot daily.

A senior official in the welfare ministry confirmed to AFP that the government would cut off all social benefits to the family of the attacker.

"Wednesday's terrorist may have chosen not to carry out his attack if he had known his family could be punished for the act," President Shimon Peres told public radio.

During the Palestinian uprising of the early 2000s Israel systematically destroyed the homes of Palestinians involved in deadly attacks but the practice stopped in 2005 after then military chief of staff Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon said in a report it was ineffective as a deterrent.

Authorities called Wednesday's deadly rampage "an act of terrorism" but Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen said it appeared to be a "spontaneous incident" carried out by a father of two with a criminal past but no known links to armed groups.

A worker at a nearby construction site, the man drove an earthmover down a busy avenue ramming a bus, overturning another and ploughing into several more vehicles before police shot him dead at point-blank range.

Police questioned relatives and other residents of the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sur Baher where the attacker, identified as Hossam Dwayyat, 30, lived.

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Bruno Veninga 12 years ago

Just wondering if anyone has actually thought about the possibility that this man actually just flipped out, had a mental breakdown, decided he couldn't handle life anymore and went on a rampage caused by temporary insanity? Please people... this wasn't an act of terrorism. And tearing the man's house down isn't going to do any good, it will just refuel the whole revenge system. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth... this used to work in caveman times, but nowadays aren't we a little more civilised, and a little more intelligent to settle matters in a better way without hurting more people?