Minister Gideon Ezra in the Knesset
Minister Gideon Ezra in the Knessetphoto: file

Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra, a former senior official in the General Security Services (GSS-Shabak), said Tuesday that terrorism should be fought with means that enhance Israeli deterrence. He cited house demolitions as an effective measure.

Barak also called on Tuesday for expediting the necessary legal procedures.

In a Hebrew-language interview with Israel National News on the morning after an Arab from Jerusalem rammed his car into a large crowd of pedestrians, injuring 23, Minister Ezra praised the individual who shot the attacker dead. At the same time, he had harsh criticism for the justice system, which is delaying the execution of demolition orders issued several months ago for the family home of another Arab terrorist in the capital.

According to Ezra, the courts fail to understand that house demolitions are not punitive; they are deterrent. "Deterrence should be enhanced in order to prevent the next terrorist attack," Ezra said. "This is the fourth attack in Jerusalem that came from the east side of the city. It's not possible to station a cop on every corner. ...Every terrorist and his family should know that their house will be demolished and that they will no longer be residents receiving all the benefits the State of Israel offers."

The government minister said that the High Court of Justice "must be a partner" in the decision to knock down the family homes of terrorists. "The High Court has already decided that a terrorist's room could be destroyed as a punitive measure if the terrorist attack was prepared in that room. However, in this case we are talking about a deterrent step. I think that a terrorist knowing that his family will suffer the shame of going hungry will assist in the prevention of attacks."

At this time, there is a demolition order before the courts for the home of the terrorist who murdered eight students at the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem in March of this year. Regarding the execution of this order, Ezra said, "The government is not responsible [for the delay]; rather, we're talking about legal procedures - today, no one makes a move without a positive judicial opinion in the matter."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also called on Tuesday for expediting the necessary legal procedures to facilitate the demolition of terrorists' homes as soon as possible after any terror attack. Like Minister Ezra, Barak also endorsed the deterrent effect of house demolitions, saying that an almost immediate execution of such orders would increase their impact.

Chairman of the National Union-National Religious Party Knesset faction, MK Uri Ariel, said that the blame for Monday's ramming attack can be laid at the feet of Defense Minister Barak himself, as well as on the justice system. The delay in carrying out the demolition of terrorists' homes, as well as the periodic release of jailed terrorists as goodwill gestures to the Palestinian Authority led to the attack, he said.