Israel prepares to crack down on Jerusalem Arabs

Thursday, July 24, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli security officials are pushing for authorization to use more severe methods of punishment against Arab residents of Jerusalem who engage in terrorist activity.

In the wake of this week's bulldozer terrorist attack on King David Street, the second bulldozer terrorist attack in the capital this month, security officials are acutely aware that the Arab residents of Jerusalem currently pose the greatest terrorist threat to Israel.

Already, police have arrested 71 Jerusalem Arabs this year on suspicion of planning or knowing about planned acts of terror. That number is up drastically from the 34 Jerusalem Arabs who were arrested on terror-related charges in all of 2007.

But officials cited by Ha'aretz said that Jerusalem Arabs represent a weak link in Israel's defenses, and that arrests alone are not an effective solution.

The Arab residents of Jerusalem carry Israeli identity cards, giving them absolute freedom of movement around the city and the country. Furthermore, none of the five Jerusalem Arabs who have perpetrated attacks this year were members of known Palestinian terror groups, making it increasingly difficult to determine their intentions beforehand.

Some security officials say the only viable solution is to create deterrence by using draconian methods of punishment against those Arabs who do engage in terrorism. Some of the methods being discussed include razing the family homes of the terrorists, and expelling any family members who had information about an attack.

In related news, an Israeli police officer critically wounded by a Arab gunmen in Jerusalem's Old City two weeks ago died on Wednesday.

Officer David Chriqui had been in a coma since being shot at point-blank range while he stood guard at the Lion's Gate on July 11. A second officer also seriously wounded in that attack has since recovered.

The shooter fled into a nearby Muslim cemetery and has yet to be apprehended.

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