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7.6.2018

The High Court of Justice approved the punitive demolition of a family home of 3 in the West Bank: the facts that those living in the house are innocent, and that the demolition may damage the entire building, do not constitute sufficient grounds for cancelling the demolition order

On June 7, 2018, the High Court of Justice (HCJ) rejected a petition by HaMoked to cancel a punitive demolition order. The order, issued on May 7, 2018, targeted the family home of a man accused of committing a vehicular attack on March 16, 2018, near the Mevo Dotan settlement in the Northern West Bank, in which two Israeli soldiers were killed.

The apartment intended for demolition, which is on the third floor of a four-story building, is home to 3 people – the accused's sister (who owns the apartment) and her 8-year-old daughter, and the accused's brother – none of whom are suspected of involvement in the attack. The building contains two additional apartments, in which two of the accused's brothers live with their wives and children. The building's two bottom floors, which are owned by the accused's father, are used for commercial purposes.

The Court rejected HaMoked's claim that the demolition order was issued prior to the completion of the criminal proceedings against the accused and before the suspicions against him were clarified, ruling that administrative evidence indicating his guilt is sufficient in order to exercise the authority to demolish the home. Additionally, the Court rejected the claim, based on an expert opinion submitted by HaMoked, that demolition of the third floor apartment could cause damage to the entire building, and even to its foundations. Instead, the Court accepted the military's claim that the demolition could be conducted without harming the entire building, by using manual means that would "minimize" the damage to the rest of the building. Finally, the Court ruled that a lack of knowledge on the part of the accused's relatives regarding his alleged intentions to conduct an attack, is not sufficient "to have the order cancelled".

On the principled level, HaMoked once again claimed that demolishing the homes of attackers (or suspected attackers) constitutes wrongful collective punishment, and is contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law. As in previous cases, the Court rejected HaMoked's request to hold a substantive discussion regarding its principled claims against punitive home demolitions. In this context, Justice Barak-Erez stated that "our ruling on this petition is subject to precedent, which is still binding despite the reservations raised on the matter, some of which I share".

The court ordered the postponement of the demolition for one week from the date of the judgment, in order to give the family time to prepare for the demolition of their home.


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