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11.5.2015

In a legal opinion from 1968, then legal advisor of the Israeli foreign ministry determines that punitive demolition of houses in the OPT contradicts international law: HaMoked and other human rights organizations request the court to hold a further, expanded hearing in the general petition recently rejected

On January 15, 2015, following the dismissal by the High Court of Justice (HCJ) of the general petition against the policy of punitive house demolition, filed by HaMoked and other human rights organizations, the petitioners applied for a further hearing in the petition before an extended panel of justices. The organizations claim, inter alia, that the main arguments in the petition – that punitive demolitions constitute collective punishment and destruction of protected persons' property, both prohibited under international law – had never been thoroughly considered, including in the present judgment; additionally, that this issue and its repercussions are of the outmost significance and severity.

On May 11, 2015 the organizations applied to submit to the court a supporting document – a legal opinion from 1968, recently uncovered by Akevot: Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research, written by then Israeli foreign ministry’s legal adviser, Prof. Theodor Meron. In his expert opinion, Meron concluded that using Regulation 119 of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations 1945 to demolish houses of Palestinians contradicts the Fourth Geneva Convention. It should be noted that contrary to Israel's current position, that this is a measure of deterrence rather than punishment, in the document, Prof. Meron quotes the position of the Military Advocate General Corps, whereby "Blasting a home is a punitive measure under the local law […]" (emphasis added).

In the submission request, the organizations stressed that Prof. Theodor Meron is one of the leading international law jurists in the world, who was an appointed official in the Israeli government, and his conclusion that using Regulation 119 for punitive demolition in the OPT contradicts international law, bolsters the organizations claim that this is a difficult and complex issue, that merits an additional hearing before an expanded panel.

In its response to the submission request, the state argued that the document is entirely irrelevant as it does not concern house demolition for deterrence purposes – already approved by the court's ruling – but rather punitive demolition. The state added that only in rare and exceptional cases can evidence that was not presented to the court during proceedings be submitted as part of an application for further HCJ hearing; however, the state decided not to object to the submission request and has left it for the court to decide.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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