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The HCJ rejected HaMoked's petition against the military's decision to demolish the family home of an assailant: the justices accepted the state's position that the demolition was required for deterrence

On June 23, 2014, the military notified that it intended to demolish a two-floor house in the village of Idhna in the District of Hebron because one of its occupants "perpetrated a terrorist attack on April 14, 2014", stating that "this measure may deter potential terrorists and promote the security of the Area". HaMoked filed an objection against the military's decision, arguing, inter alia, that the house slated for demolition in no part belonged to the suspected perpetrator, but to his brother. In view of this claim, the military responded on June 27, 2014 that it had revised its position, and intended no longer to demolish the entire house, only the western half of the building, in part of which resided the suspect's wife and children (of course, the suspect himself was already in custody).

On June 29, 2014, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice to instruct the military to refrain from any demolition of the house. HaMoked argued that the complete – or partial – demolition of the house would constitute collective punishment prohibited under international law, and would critically violate the rights of the innocent people living there, including many children. HaMoked went on to argue that the military had presented no proof that the demolition of structure's western part would not cause damage to the eastern part, or to adjacent structures. HaMoked noted that the military establishment itself had determined that the policy of punitive house demolitions had failed to prove itself as a deterrence, and added that the military's decision to renew house demolitions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories at this point in time – soon after the abduction of three Israelis – raised concerns that the demolition was intended for revenge or punishment against the Hamas Organization, held responsible by Israel for the abduction.

In response to the petition, the military argued that the partial demolition was vital for "deterring additional terrorists from committing additional severe attacks", and that the extreme deterioration in the security situation justified departure from the policy in place since 2005 – when the military decided to cease using punitive house demolitions. Still, the military stated that as it was now satisfied that the suspect's family was not using the storage units on the bottom floor, it planned to demolish "only" the top-floor apartment, where the family lived.

During the hearing, HaMoked submitted to the court an engineer opinion, whereby a demolition of the apartment on the building's western side would jeopardize the entire structure. HaMoked stressed that the risk involved was much higher in case the apartment was be detonated with explosives, as the military had announced during the hearing and for the first time – it intended to do. Therefore, the justices allowed HaMoked to submit an amended expert opinion.

At noon, July 1, 2014, the HCJ rejected the petition in its entirety. However, the court alerted the parties that the demolition order would not be implemented until 12 hours after the judgment, and instructed the military to consider – "openly and willingly" – the engineer opinion submitted in the hearing, and the additional expert opinion HaMoked intended to present.

A few hours later, HaMoked was notified by the military that it did not intend to retract its demolition decision. Late that night, the military detonated the 'Awwad family's apartment, and left six souls – a mother and her five children – without a roof over their heads. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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