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HaMoked to the HCJ: direct the military not to resume enforcing a partially-implemented punitive demolition order

On July 24, 2016, the High Court of Justice (HCJ) rejected HaMoked’s petition and approved the punitive demolition of the top floor of a two story building in Yatta, the home of the parents and siblings of an assailant who carried out an attack against Israelis some two months earlier. On August 4, 2016, the military demolished the targeted floor, but for unknown reasons of its own it left intact one room and an adjacent bathroom. Immediately after the demolition, the Yatta Municipality installed a safety rail around the demolished floor (i.e., now the roof of the first floor not slated for demolition and inhabited as before), and erected a fence around what was left of the staircase leading up to it.

A year after the demolition, on July 25, 2017, the military announced that “given information brought to [the military commander]’s intention… regarding use made by the terrorist’s family members of the structure’s part that was not completely demolished”, it intended “to complete the demolition of the remainder of the second floor, subject of the order”. The notice gave a 72-hour stay for clearing out the building before the military’s arrival to conduct the renewed demolition. HaMoked contacted the military to ask the demolition be postponed, recalling agreements reached in a previous similar case, but to no avail. The military went one step further, and in another notice from July 27, 2017, said that insofar as the family members “carry out a self-[performed] demolition of the parts of the structure remaining on the roof of the building… the military commander will settle for this and allow leaving intact the structure’s roof rail and the staircase, although they were built in defiance of the above-referenced seizure and demolition order”.

On July 30, 2017, HaMoked petitioned the HCJ against the military’s decision. HaMoked asserted that the decision must be revoked, if only for the military’s excessive delay in fully implementing the demolition order, HaMoked also argued that the military did not have the authority to compel the assailant’s family to go to the home that was no longer theirs and carry out at the military commander’s behest the demolition he himself had refrained from carrying out a year before; especially since the roof-top room had already been cleared of all objects which were in fact stored there at some point, and was now completely disused. HaMoked added that the handrail and roof cover installed on the staircase were only put up as a basic humane precaution and a necessary positive obligation, and so leaving them in place should not be conditional on this “self-performed demolition”.

After the petition was filed, the HCJ issued a temporary order prohibiting the demolition pending further decision. The state was instructed to submit its response to the petition by August 2, 2017, at 12:00 noon. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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