Ynet recently approached the defense minister's office with this matter following the arrest of Yaakov (Jack) Teitel, who is suspected of murdering two Palestinians, placing a pipe bomb outside the home of left-wing Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell and committing a series of other terrorist activities over the past 12 years.
In light of the defense minister's past remarks, we asked whether the State was considering destroying Teitel's home in the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel. Despite repeated appeals, Barak has not responded so far.
Teitel's home. To be demolished? (Photo: Shmulik Schiff, Haredim website)
In September 2008, the defense minister complained of legal complications preventing the demolition of terrorists' homes, saying that the matter was "stuck within complicated rules of the legal system, which do not fit Israel's state of emergency."
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz was asked to address the issue at the time. He wrote, "In light of High Court rulings for many years, it's not true to say that there is a legal obstacle in implementing the authority to demolish homes, but this raises significant legal difficulties."
Following a High Court ruling, the home of Hossam Dwayyat – who murdered three people in a bulldozer attack in Jerusalem – was partially demolished in April. Even beforehand, without an early approval, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided to revoke the welfare rights of the terrorist's family. The home of the terrorist who murdered eight students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem was also sealed.
Tibi: Double standards proved again
Barak is not the only one who demanded that terrorists' houses be razed. Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, when he was still an Opposition member, said following a deadly stabbing attack in Jerusalem that "it's time for Defense Minister Barak to act firmly against the Palestinian terror and immediately instruct authorities to demolish the terrorist's house."
Today, Minister Aharonovitch sounds a bit different. His office said in a statement, "The minister, as the person in charge of the law enforcement authorities, finds no difference in the severity of the crime due to the perpetrator's descent. The minister treats any security, criminal or moral offense in a similar manner."
As for the demolition of terrorists' homes, the statement said that "the matter is in the hands of the Defense Ministry. Therefore, the minister will present his stand to the relevant elements."
Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al), who is currently in London for a Palestinian conference, told Ynet he was wondering why Teitel's house had not been demolished yet.
"Once again it has been proven that there are double standards," he argued. "The question is self evident in light of the serious allegations against him. It's clear to everyone that if he had been an Arab or a Palestinian, the ministers would have competed who would be the first to issue a statement about the house's demolition, and I am certain that Barak's bulldozers would have already been on their way to destroy it."
Tibi said he was against house demolitions in principle, but that nonetheless, "If Israel razes homes of Arabs who are accused of terrorism, the law should also apply to Jewish terrorists."
According to the MK, "The entire Teitel story raises questions. Why did it take 12 years to discover this terrorist, who hid an arsenal of weapons in his home, and only when he hurt Jews they began investing efforts in exposing him. This also points to the existing double standards."
Sharon Roffe-Ofir and Efrat Weiss contributed to this report