Last October, Muhannad Halabi, 19, a student at Al-Quds University and member of the Islamic Jihad, stabbed two Israeli men to death and injured a woman and a baby in Jerusalem’s Old City, effectively starting the “knife intifada.” Halabi was immediately shot and killed by Israeli police and posthumously was branded a terrorist.
The Palestinian community, including Halabi’s parents, however, see him as a hero. “I will always be proud that my son sacrificed his life for the liberation of his homeland,” Muhannad’s mother, Suhair Halabi, said at the time.
The Halabi family’s al-Bireh home was demolished in early January according to Israeli policy which was implemented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid vows to harshen measures against terrorists following the onset of the current terror wave. The demolition orders, which can take several months for Israeli courts to process, also include prohibitions against rebuilding the houses.
Such prohibitions have thus sparked a campaign among Palestinians called Rebuilding the Homes of the Free which is funded by donations directly from the Arab public specifically for the purpose of restoring the demolished homes of terrorists’ families. Rebuilding the Homes recently came to the aid of the Halabis, raising funds by posting collection boxes throughout Arab cities and villages. The campaign’s success resulted in contributions amounting to at least several million shekel, a portion of which financed the purchase of a two-story villa for the Halabi family.
The family’s new villa covers an astounding overall area of 3,875 sq. ft. on a 6,458 sq. ft. lot in the Al Basatin neighborhood of Abu Qash, a pastoral suburb of Ramallah. The villa, which cost $173,000, is now registered as belonging to Muhannad Halabi’s father, Shafiq.
With additional reporting by Ariella Mendlowitz