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5.3.2020

The HCJ rejected HaMoked’s request for further hearing of the petition against the punitive demolition of a second-floor apartment in an eight-story residential building: No new precedent was set in the judgment regarding the demolition implementation manner

On February 20, 2020, the High Court of Justice (HCJ) unanimously approved the demolition of an apartment and a house in the West Bank, the homes of the relatives of two Palestinian men indicted for the August 23, 2019 attack in which Israeli Rina Shnerb was killed. The HCJ rejected all of HaMoked’s arguments in the two petitions it had filed on behalf of the families and also in the third petition, filed on behalf of the neighbors living in the eight-story building of the targeted apartment.

In the judgment, Justice Willner dismissed, among other things, HaMoked’s objection to the demolition method chosen by the military: “It should be noted that I have not found in this case any additional means that are less harmful and can achieve the deterrence purpose of the seizure and demolition orders. Thus, in the hearing held before us [an engineer on behalf of the military] noted that sealing the apartment with concrete was impossible due to the great weight of the concrete. I note further that I have been convinced that sealing the apartment with foam or other means that were presented in the additional expert opinion of [an engineer on behalf of HaMoked] is not effective, as it would allow the relatively quick renovation of the apartment and its continued [use for] residence – despite the seizure and demolition order”.

On February 27, 2020, HaMoked submitted to the court a request for a further hearing of the neighbors’ petition, particularly regarding the question of how to implement the seizure and demolition order. This, given the neighbors’ substantive concern for their home’s safety, as well as its value and appearance. The request was based on Justice Willner’s finding that sealing was not effective for implementing demolition orders as it was easily reversible – a finding which appeared to set a harsh new precedent. HaMoked noted that contrary to the Justice’s finding, “there is nothing wrong in carrying out Regulation 119… in a manner that makes it reversible”; on the contrary, the possibility of a future pardon is expressly set in the Regulation.

On March 1, 2020, the request was denied. In her decision, Supreme Court President Hayut ruled that the judgment did not contain any new precedent justifying a further hearing. As to the possibility of sealing instead of demolishing the apartment, President Hayut noted: “The court examined alternative possibilities that could mitigate the damage to the inhabitants of the building, but found, as a factual matter and based on the expert opinions submitted to it, that in this case it is impossible to achieve the purpose of deterrence through less harmful means” (emphasis added).

The military demolished both homes on March 5, 2020.
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