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7.3.2019

The HCJ allows the punitive demolition of a home in the West Bank: Justice Mazuz in the minority reiterates his position that the policy of punitive demolitions raises difficult legal questions and that he was opposed to harming “uninvolved family members”

On March 4, 2019, the High Court of Justice (HCJ), in a majority opinion, rejected HaMoked’s petition against the punitive demolition of a family home in Kobar, Ramallah District, home to a man accused of two attacks against Israelis in the West Bank on December 9 and 13, 2019.

The majority opinion dismissed as a matter of routine HaMoked’s principle arguments – that punitive home demolition is unacceptable collective punishment prohibited under international law; that it causes baseless and severe harm to innocent people; and that its professed effectiveness as a deterrent is in great doubt. HaMoked’s arguments regarding the particular case were also rejected; among other things, the claim that the demolition order should at least be limited to the second floor of the structure, given that the assailant had no affinity to the under-construction ground floor, intended to be the home of the assailant’s underage brother.

Again, Justice Mazuz, in the minority, opposed the demolition of the home, asserting, among other things, that “The assailant was captured and interrogated and is expected, it was reported, to stand trial for his heinous deeds. However, we are not dealing with the assailant himself, who is now in custody and if convicted, will spend many years in prison, but with his family membersabout whom, as stated, there is no claim of involvement in his heinous deeds” (emphases added). Mazuz also reiterated his position, voiced in previous judgments, that “use of Regulation 119” – pursuant to which the military commander issues such demolition orders – “raises a range of difficult legal questions, both from the aspect of public international law as well as from aspects of Israeli constitutional law and administrative law, which to my mind have not yet been examined in a satisfactory and contemporary manner in the case law of this court”.

It should be noted that other justices besides Justice Mazuz have held that the judicial precedent allowing the punitive demolition of homes should be revisited.

The family home was demolished on March 7, 2019.
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