Israel takes steps to punish 'families of terrorists'
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Israeli forces on Sunday prepared to demolish the family home of a Palestinian man who killed seven people near a synagogue, as part of measures to punish the relatives of attackers.
The security cabinet earlier agreed a slew of steps, including rescinding the rights to social security benefits of "the families of terrorists that support terrorism".
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet said the east Jerusalem home of Khayri Alqam, 21 -- who was shot dead by police following Friday's attack -- "will be sealed immediately ahead of its demolition".
An AFP correspondent saw Israeli forces on the property after they shuttered its entrances, with Palestinians clearing out their belongings.
Israel already routinely demolishes the homes of Palestinians who kill Israelis, although the process requires prior notice to families and allows for an appeals process.
Dani Shenhar, a legal expert at Israeli rights group HaMoked, said sealing off the home overnight demonstrated the government's desire for "revenge against the families".
The measure was carried out "in complete disregard for the rule of law", he charged, adding that HaMoked would launch a protest with Israel's attorney general.
- 'Death spiral' -
Netanyahu said Sunday that revoking Israeli identity cards of the relatives of attackers was on the agenda of the weekly cabinet meeting.
The punitive measures announced are in line with proposals from Netanyahu's extreme-right political partners, whose support enabled him to return to power at the end of December.
They are likely to apply primarily to Palestinians with Israeli nationality, known as Arab-Israelis, and Palestinians with residency permits for annexed east Jerusalem.
Hours after the deadly shooting outside the synagogue in the settlement of Neve Yaacov, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy shot and wounded two Israelis just outside the walled Old City of east Jerusalem.
The boy blamed for the attack in the Silwan neighbourhood was shot and wounded at the scene and detained.
Another Palestinian hurt in prior clashes with Israeli forces in Silwan died from his wounds Friday, a Shaare Zedek hospital spokeswoman told AFP.
The mounting toll was described as a "death spiral" by Pope Francis, who referred to both Palestinians and Israelis killed.
"The death spiral that increases day by day only closes the few glimmers of trust that exist between the two peoples," the pontiff said Sunday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected in Jerusalem and Ramallah on Monday and Tuesday to discuss steps for de-escalation.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu are due to meet separately with Blinken, for talks that have taken on renewed urgency amid the latest bloodshed.
- Gun permits -
Israel's security cabinet responded to the latest attacks with another decision, to make it easier for Israeli citizens to obtain permits to carry firearms.
"When civilians have guns, they can defend themselves," extreme-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir told reporters outside a Jerusalem hospital on Saturday.
The Jerusalem attacks came after the deadliest raid by Israeli forces in the West Bank in nearly two decades, which killed 10 Palestinians.
Israel said the raid in Jenin on Thursday targeted Islamic Jihad operatives, whose militants along with Hamas later fired several rockets from Gaza towards Israel.
Most of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli defence systems, before the military responded with strikes on Hamas targets inside the Palestinian enclave.
There were no casualties reported on either side.
- Arson attacks -
The surge in violence has sparked fears of further reprisals.
A Palestinian home and vehicle in the West Bank village of Turmus Ayya were torched overnight, in an attack residents blamed on Israeli settlers.
Israeli forces did not immediately comment on the arson when contacted by AFP.
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that 120 cars were hit by stones, allegedly thrown by settlers, and 22 shops attacked in the Nablus area on Saturday night.
Outside the nearby Israeli settlement of Kedumim, guards killed a Palestinian who the army alleged was armed with a handgun.
He was named by the Palestinian health ministry Sunday as 18-year-old Karam Ali Ahmad Salman.
Friday's attack near a synagogue sparked outrage in Europe and the United States and condemnation from several Arab governments that have ties with Israel -- including Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Netanyahu has for decades branded himself as the leader best suited to keep Israel safe.
But his domestic agenda is facing mounting criticism, with thousands rallying in Tel Aviv on Saturday against his controversial judicial reform plan that aims to give politicians more control over the supreme court.