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The court denied the general petition filed by HaMoked and other human rights organizations against the punitive house demolition policy: the court ruled that the state had the authority to demolish houses, but it should exercise it proportionately

In the summer of 2014, Israel renewed punitive house demolitions, after it refrained from doing so in recent years; this measure is exercised under Regulation 119 of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of the British Mandate and contrary to international law.

On November 27, 2014, HaMoked, heading a group of human rights organizations, petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to sweepingly prohibit the exercise of the authority to demolish residential homes pursuant to Regulation 119, including in cases the security establishment defines as "extreme cases". HaMoked argued that the legal arguments against the lawfulness of regulation 119 should be revisited, in view of the fact that said issue had not been discussed on its merits since the 1980s, when the first two judgments on the issue had been given. Furthermore, over the years, there had been significant changes in international law, including international criminal law, yet the Supreme Court had not considered these changes in its various judgments on punitive house demolitions, and it should to do so now.

In the hearing of the petition, the state argued that the justification for punitive demolitions was deterrence of future perpetrators rather than punishment of their relatives. The organizations questioned this argument and the efficacy of the act for deterrence and added that in any event, collective punishment and injury of innocent individuals must not be founded on a slim hope for future deterrence.

On December 31, 2014, the court dismissed the petition. The court denied the request to review the lawfulness of regulation 119 and ruled that Israel had the authority to continue house demolitions pursuant to the Regulation, but emphasized that this authority must be exercised in a proportionate manner and only against perpetrators of particularly severe acts. In accepting the state's arguments that the aim of punitive house demolition was deterrence rather than punishment, the court also ruled that the actual deterrence achieved by punitive demolitions should be examined in future, and even added that it would require the state to present actual evidence for such deterrence in future cases. Still, in its judgment, the court incorporated quotes from Hebraic law, which explicitly support collective punishment. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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