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Militants' homes demolished as Israel cracks down on unrest

Israel has knocked down the former homes of two dead Palestinian militants as it announces tougher measures to counter mounting unrest. Five Palestinians have been arrested over the killing of an Israeli couple.

An Israeli military statement said the houses knocked down on Tuesday once belonged to Ghassan Abu Jamal and Mohammed Jaabis, who were shot dead after carrying out deadly attacks in Jerusalem last year in which a number of Israelis were killed.

Abu Jamal, together with his cousin, killed four rabbis and a policeman in an attack with meat cleavers and a pistol, while Jaabis drove a bulldozer into a bus, killing an Israeli and wounding several others.

Israel often demolishes the homes of militants' families in the hope that it will deter further such attacks.

Spike in violence

The operation comes after warnings from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that

he will use a "strong hand"

to tackle mounting violence in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, with four Israelis killed by Palestinian militants in as many days, including a couple gunned down in front of their four children in the West Bank.

Israel said on Monday it had arrested five alleged Hamas militants over the killing.

Two Palestinian youths, aged 13 and 18, have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops, and dozens have been wounded amid recent protests.

Contentious restriction

Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem

Al Aqsa mosque has been a focus for clashes

An Israeli police spokeswoman said on Tuesday that a recently imposed restriction on Palestinians entering the Old City would be lifted, but that only men aged 50 and above would be allowed to worship at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which, as a site holy to both Muslims and Jews, is a constant flashpoint for tensions.

In a rare move, Israeli authorities

closed Jerusalem's Old City to Palestinians

on Sunday after the

stabbing of two Israelis there.

tj/msh (AFP, AP)

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