A day after a Palestinian construction worker's deadly rampage in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday called for reviving the practice of demolishing the homes of attackers' families, and his chief deputy proposed cutting some Arab neighborhoods off from the rest of the city.
Israeli Jews expressed anxiety about security, and Palestinians wondered what the violence will mean for their already tenuous position in society.
A day earlier, a Palestinian drove a huge earth-moving vehicle over cars and into buses, killing three Israelis and leaving a swath of wreckage on a main Jerusalem street before security forces shot him to death.
The attacker, Hussam Dwayat, 30, of east Jerusalem, had no problem moving around the Jewish part of Jerusalem. After Israel took control of the Arab section of the city in the 1967 war, it gave residency and Israeli ID cards to the Arabs who lived there, giving them freedom of movement around Israel.
The attack brought calls to reconsider at least some of the benefits the 250,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem receive from the Israeli government.
“I think we have to be tougher in part of the measures that we take against terrorists, especially terrorists who are part of our internal fabric of life,” Olmert told an economic conference.
Israel had in 2005 stopped the practice of demolishing the homes of Palestinian attackers after the military determined that it did not work as a deterrent.
Olmert's dovish vice premier, Haim Ramon, proposed cutting off the attackers' home village and others in east Jerusalem, where about 50,000 Arabs live, by rerouting the West Bank separation barrier to put the villages outside Jerusalem's boundaries. It was a rare call by a senior Israeli official to effectively redivide Jerusalem, reflecting concern that preventing attacks by Jerusalem's Palestinians is virtually impossible. Four months ago, a Palestinian from a neighboring village shot and killed eight young students at a rabbinical school in Jerusalem.
In another development, Palestinian militants fired a rocket at Israel, violating a June 19 truce, the military said. No one was hurt, but Israel's Defense Ministry decided to close Gaza crossings today in response, cutting off vital supplies. The Hamas government in Gaza called the closure a breach of the cease-fire.