Israelis weigh Jerusalem vulnerabilities in wake of bulldozer attack
For Palestinians in areas of Jerusalem seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the attack reinforces their precarious status in-between their countrymen in the West Bank and Israel.
The day after Hussam Duwiyat plowed through a central Jerusalem street with a tractor, a squad of M-16-toting paramilitary police briefly barricaded the door of his family home in the Palestinian neighborhood of Zur Baher. Some Israeli ministers want it demolished altogether.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Mr. Duwiyat, whose rampage left three Israelis dead before he was shot to death, was the second Palestinian from East Jerusalem in four months to embark on a killing spree, exacerbating Jewish fears of the city's 240,000 Palestinian residents who are perceived as threat from within because they enjoy most of the same freedoms as Israeli citizens.
"We're vulnerable. What the terrorist act proved is not even a wall can keep us safe. We can't wall off neighborhoods that are in east Jerusalem unless we're ready cede control over the city," said Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow with the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at Jerusalem's Shalem Center. "There's the realization that there is an inability to protect ourselves in the most minimal way. At times, we are going to witness outbreaks of madness on our streets."
For Palestinians in the areas of Jerusalem seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the attacks reinforce their precarious status in-between their countrymen in the West Bank and Israel. As residents of Jerusalem, they live alongside Israelis and are eligible for similar social benefits, but most have not taken up citizenship as an act of solidarity with their brethren in the territories under Israeli military occupation.
Outrage over Duwiyat's action inspired calls by Israeli politicians to pass laws allowing the government to punish the families of perpetrators of terrorist attacks. In addition to home demolition, some have suggested withholding the social benefits due to attackers and their families.
"They should reconsider and act rationally, rather than make people suffer for the acts of other individuals," says Mohamed Dejani, a political science professor at Al Quds University. "This is going to feed into Palestinian perception that Israel is trying to evacuate East Jerusalem" of Arab residents.
Proponents justified the proposals as a necessary deterrent that will give potential attackers pause.
"We need to act with a much stronger hand," said Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the parliament opposition in an interview with Israel Radio. Netanyahu accused Palestinian schools and mosques in East Jerusalem of incitement to violence. We need to change the laws to allow us to operate against terrorists, who will know that their families will pay a price. We have no choice."
Just before noon on Wednesday, Duwiyat used a bulldozer to mow down about a half-dozen cars and overturn a bus on a third-of-a-mile stretch of Jerusalem's Jaffa Road.