A relative of Abdelrahman Shaludi, a Palestinian who killed two Israelis with his car last month, displays his portrait inside his family home after it was razed by Israeli authorities in east Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood on November 19, 2014A relative of Abdelrahman Shaludi, a Palestinian who killed two Israelis with his car last month, displays his portrait inside his family home after it was razed by Israeli authorities in east Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood on November 19, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
Jerusalem (AFP) - Israel on Wednesday demolished the home of a Palestinian behind a deadly car attack in Jerusalem, pushing ahead with a promised crackdown following a bloody assault on a synagogue.
Four rabbis and a policeman were killed Tuesday after two Palestinians wielding meat cleavers and a pistol launched a rare assault on a place of worship.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed a harsh response to the synagogue assault, which was the bloodiest attack in Jerusalem in years.
"I have ordered the destruction of the homes of the Palestinians who carried out this massacre and to speed up the demolitions of those who carried out previous attacks," Netanyahu said late Tuesday.
Hours later Israeli forces razed the east Jerusalem apartment of the family of Abdelrahman Shaludi, who deliberately rammed his car into a crowd of pedestrians on October 22, killing a young woman and a baby.
Shaludi was shot by police as he fled the scene and later died of his wounds.
Israel is struggling to contain a wave of unrest in annexed Arab east Jerusalem that has seen a growing number of deadly attacks by Palestinians.
Israel has used punitive house demolitions for years in the West Bank but the policy was halted in 2005 after the army said they had no proven deterrent effect and was likely to encourage violence.
Until now, razing homes has never been adopted as a matter of policy in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.
The family home in the densely populated neighbourhood of Silwan was little more than a shell after the demolition, its inner and outer walls blown out and piles of rubble covering the floor.
The family had moved out ahead of the demolition and were staying with relatives.
"Where can we go now? We have nowhere to live, no home," said Shaludi's sister Nibras, a young teenager in a bright pink flowered headscarf.
- Controversial practice -
Abed Rabbo Abu Jamal, the father of one of the cousins that carried out Tuesday's synagogue attack, Ghassan Abu Jamal, said he was summoned to collect the demolition order for his house.
Israel's decision to resume demolitions was taken on November 6 after a second car attack by a Palestinian that killed two Israelis.
An official said the aim was "to restore calm in Jerusalem" following a wave of attacks.
Human rights groups have denounced the practice as collective punishment targeting not the perpetrators but their families.
And the US State Department warned last week that demolishing homes would be "counterproductive" and would "exacerbate an already tense situation" in Jerusalem.
Israeli commentators too acknowledged a dispute over the effectiveness of the measure.
"The Shin Bet (internal security service) contends that it deters, the army contends that it does not and that it could even have the opposite effect -- it sows the seeds for the next terror attack," wrote Nahum Barnea in Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
"But all that is irrelevant, because the government... feels that it must show the public that it is punishing the other side."
Aside from the homes of the two Palestinians behind the synagogue attack, three more east Jerusalem apartments are earmarked for demolition in connection with a spate of attacks in the past three months.
The latest wave of violence comes amid heightened tensions in the Holy City, fanned by Palestinian anger over right-wing Jews pressing to overturn a long-standing ban on their praying at the compound that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock.
The site is the holiest in Judaism, which knows it as the Temple Mount, and the third-holiest place for Muslims, who call it Al-Haram Al-Sharif.
Palestinians are also angered by Jewish settlers moving into east Jerusalem and either buying up properties, or building new ones.
On Wednesday, the Jerusalem municipality said it approved the construction of 78 new homes for settlers in the Har Homa and Ramot neighbourhoods.
Pope Francis voiced dismay at the "alarming increase in tension in Jerusalem" and appealed to both sides to take the "courageous decisions" needed to achieve peace.
Jordan, custodian of Muslim holy places in east Jerusalem, said it was following "the serious situation" in the city, condemning all acts of violence and calling for "restraint and calm".
In other developments, Israel denounced as unhelpful a vote by Spain's parliament calling on Madrid to recognise a Palestinian state.
"It would have been better if the Spanish parliament had instead chosen to do the right thing by condemning the abominable slaughter carried out by inflamed Palestinians in a synagogue in Jerusalem," the foreign ministry said of the vote, which came hours after the attack.