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HaMoked files an urgent objection against the intention to demolish the house of a suspected assailant: Israel must not readopt this illegal policy, which it had already recognized was an ineffective measure

On June 23, 2014, after a period of about five years during which Israel refrained from demolishing houses as punishment over fatal attacks, the military notified members of the 'Awwad family from the village of Idhna in the Hebron District, of its intention to demolish the family's home. The military stated that one of the house occupants "carried out, on April 14, 2014, a terrorist attack" and that "this action may deter potential terrorists and promote the security of the Area". In the house ordered for demolition, 18 people live, including many minors.

This morning, HaMoked submitted an urgent objection to the military against the intention to demolish the family's home. HaMoked stressed that the intended house demolition is a deliberate attack on people who have done no wrong, contrary to international law and in violation of the basic rights of the family members. HaMoked also stressed that the choice to carry out a house demolition does not meet the test of proportionality; furthermore, that the Israeli security establishment itself had concluded that the policy of punitive house demolitions had not been proved effective as a deterrent, and that demolitions were more harmful than beneficial. Lastly, HaMoked noted that the house now under a demolition order does not belong to the suspected assailant, but to his brother.

HaMoked has long been battling against the policy of punitive house demolitions implemented by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

Since 1967, Israel has been demolishing the homes of Palestinians as part of its penal policy in the OPT. Based on Regulation 119 of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945, which grants broad discretionary powers, the military imposes this excessive and irrevocable punishment under an administrative decision, without trial or any other judicial proceedings.

The professed aim of this policy is to harm the relatives of Palestinians who perpetrated or were suspected of involvement in fatal attacks against Israelis, this, in order to deter Palestinians from carrying out such attacks. Indeed, along the years, the main victims of house demolitions were family members, including women, children, and the old – who carried no responsibility for the actions of their relatives and were not suspected by Israel of any crime. In the vast majority of cases, the person on whose account the demolition was executed, was not living in the house at the time of the demolition, either because he was defined as "a wanted person" by the security forces, was already in custody and facing a long prison term, or because he had been killed by the security forces or during the attack he had carried out.

Beginning in 1996, HaMoked appealed repeatedly to the High Court of Justice, in a bid to prevent punitive house demolitions. In most cases, the court opted not to intervene and allowed the military to demolish houses, allegedly as a means of deterrence.

During the second intifada, Israel made extensive use of punitive house demolitions, and destroyed 600 houses as punishment. In 2005, following the conclusions of a special committee of the Israeli security establishment, that punitive house demolitions do not deter, and in certain cases may even prompt fatal attacks, the Minister of Defense announced the cessation of punitive house demolitions.

Except for two cases of house demolition and sealing in 2009, Israel has abandoned this policy. Until now. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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