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20.12.2015

HaMoked petitions against the impending punitive demolition of a home in Surda: the demolition of homes harms innocent people and constitutes collective punishment in breach of international law

On December 6, 2015, the military announced it had rejected HaMoked’s objection against the pending demolition order issued for the family home of a young man who had perpetrated an attack against Israelis in the Old City of Jerusalem on October 3, 2015. The military refused to reduce the scope of the demolition and seal only that part of the home the assailant had lived in; this despite the fact that six innocent people – the assailant’s parents and four younger siblings – live there. The military noted that contrary to the claim raised in the objection, the home was not rented but owned by the family. The military stated that “as this is involves the demolition of the entire structure, the demolition technique that has been chosen is ‘hot’ detonation”.

On December 13, 2015, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to instruct the military to cancel the demolition order for the family home located in Surda, Ramallah District. HaMoked stressed that contrary to the military’s claim, the home was not owned by the family and not recorded in the land registry in the name of the father of the family, but in the name of the chairman of board of directors of the association that had built the house in question as part of a larger building project. HaMoked recalled that punitive home demolition did not meet the test of proportionality and constituted collective punishment, prohibited under international humanitarian law. Furthermore, HaMoked asserted that “even if the aim of the demolition is deterrence, as the Respondent claims, the fact is that in practice it harms innocent people and therefore, by the outcome test, constitutes collective punishment”. HaMoked asserted that the military should at least consider reducing the extent of the damage to the home and its occupants: instead of demolishing the entire home, leaving a whole family without shelter, the military should just seal that part of the home that had served as the assailant’s dwellings.

The court issued a temporary order prohibiting the demolition pending further decision.

On December 20, 2015, HaMoked filed another petition to the HCJ – this time on behalf of the association’s chairman of the board, who is named in this capacity as owner of the property in the land registry, on behalf of the association to which the property belongs. HaMoked noted that the man had been summoned by the Israel Security Agency for questioning over the ownership of this property, this despite the objection that was pending at the time, and without notification to his lawyer about the summons. HaMoked stressed that as the association had the ownership rights to the property, the demolition order should be cancelled, or, at the very least, the military should seal only the assailant’s room rather than the entire apartment – which would severely infringe on the association’s proprietary rights. HaMoked also requested a copy of the demolition plan that would enable it to obtain an engineering opinion in order to prevent damage to adjacent buildings.
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