Terrorist’s home demolition postponed until after Biden visit

Biden administration said it would “prioritize” ending Israel’s home demolitions.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

IDF plans to demolish the home of a Palestinian terrorist have been postponed till after U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit, Army Radio reported on Wednesday.

Ra’ad Fathi Hazem killed three Israelis and injured 12 more during a shooting spree on Tel Aviv’s popular Dizengoff Street in April.

Hazem was killed in a shootout with police after an overnight manhunt.

Tomer Morad and Eytam Magini, childhood friends, were killed in Tel Aviv’s Ikla Bar, where they were waiting for friends and relatives to arrive to celebrate Magimi’s engagement. Also killed was Barak Lufan, a former Israeli Olympic kayaker.

Security officials believe Hazem also planned to carry out a second murder spree during Passover.

According to Army Radio, Hazem’s Jenin home was supposed to be razed on Wednesday, but the mission was postponed on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s orders.

The report said Bennett does not want to stir up trouble in Jenin or create a new point of friction with the U.S. ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit.

Biden is scheduled to visit Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia on July 13-16.

U.S. opposition to demolitions

Until now, no U.S. administration has clashed with Israel over the home demolitions. Palestinians describe the demolitions as collective punishment while Israeli officials say they deter terrorism.

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But demolitions became an issue in July when Israel razed the home of Palestinian-American Monastir Shalabi.

Shalabi, who had U.S. citizenship, opened fire on a group of Israeli teenagers at the Tapuach Junction in Samaria, killing 19-year-old yeshiva student Yehuda Guetta and injuring another.

The demolished property in the village of Turmus Ayya, near Ramallah was the home of Shalabi’s estranged wife and three children, who also have U.S. citizenship. Prosecutors said that although Shalabi did not live there, he was the legal owner of the house.

Israel’s High Court dismissed a petition against the razing.

The U.S. State Department said at the time it would “prioritize” ending Israel’s policy of razing the homes of terrorists.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told reporters on Wednesday that Biden would follow through with his visit even if Israel’s teetering governing coalition collapses.