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State Department opposes Israel's plan to demolish terrorist homes, even after synagogue attack


The State Department said Tuesday that it continues to oppose Israel's efforts to demolish the homes of Palestinians involved in attacks against Israeli citizens, including the homes of those involved in the Tuesday morning attack in a synagogue in Jerusalem.

At least four people were killed — including three U.S. citizens — when two Palestinians attacked a synagogue with knives, guns and a meat cleaver. Israel of late has responded to terrorist attacks by razing the homes of the attackers, a practice the U.S. has opposed.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 2.03.46 PM A spokesman for Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. still doesn't want Israel to destroy the homes of Palestinian terrorists, something Israel has vowed to do again after a brutal attack at a synagogue Tuesday.
Image: WPA Pool/Getty Images

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel would destroy the homes of the two people who attacked Israeli and U.S. citizens in the synagogue.

But in a Tuesday briefing with reporters, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said that even today's brutal attack in a synagogue wouldn't shake the U.S. government from its opposition to home demolitions.

"Our view is that punitive home demolitions are counterproductive to the cause of peace, especially in an already tense situation," he said. Rathke said the U.S. position "hasn't changed," and added, "I don't have anything new to say in that regard."

Rathke also had little else to say about Israel's response to the attack. In a public statement, Netanyahu said, "We will respond with a strong hand to the cruel murder of Jews who came to pray, and were caught by dark murderous hands."

"I'm not going to speak to all of the steps that each individual leader has outlined," Rathke said.

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