The HCJ justices criticized the state for undue delay between the attack and the issuance of the punitive demolition order: the process took too long and for no apparent good reason המוקד להגנת הפרט
11.11.2015
The HCJ justices criticized the state for undue delay between the attack and the issuance of the punitive demolition order: the process took too long and for no apparent good reason
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On November 11, 2015, the HCJ held a second hearing in HaMoked’s petition against the military’s planned demolition of the family home of a Palestinian youth suspected of carrying out a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on November 10, 2014. In the house, in the Askar Refugee Camp in Nablus, the youth lived with his parents and five siblings. The justices advised the state to reduce the scope of the demolition, given the lengthy time it took from the date of the attack until the demolition order was issued on October 3, 2015, and also given the fact that the suspect was a single man living at his parents’ home. Despite this, in its response from November 9, 2015, the state refused to “settle for” just a partial demolition, claiming it was not deterring enough.

At the opening of the hearing, the justices criticized the state’s failure to address the question of proportionality – of whether it was possible to narrow the scope of the order to just sealing the suspect’s room instead of demolishing the family’s entire apartment. The state claimed that “We do not demolish the entire structure [i.e. building], this is not a demolition which damages some other apartment, just the apartment of the terrorist and his family” (emphasis added). Therefore Justice Rubinstein inquired whether any technical reason precluded partial demolition. The state now maintained that “the attack’s force, the attack’s type is also considered… partial demolition does not suit the circumstances of this attack”. After Justice Rubinstein insisted that the state answer his question as to any technical, engineering preclusion, the state replied that “the sealing must be comparable to the demolition. That is, a sealing that stops usability [of the apartment]”. The state also maintained that operative reasons precluded the sealing, given that sealing was a lengthy process and access to this house was possible only through narrow streets – which made it difficult to transport the engineering equipment.

Justice Mazuz discussed the issue of the state’s delay in issuing the demolition order; he noted that the state’s response on the matter was unconvincing, and that there was “a smokescreen” on the issue and that “the picture being painted here is that this is a routine matter – receiving a response on the home demolition takes months of responses by the political establishment, the military establishment…“. The state replied by claiming in general – without addressing the particulars of the case before the court – that a long and complex process preceded the issuing of a demolition order, and actually described a new procedure: “after the attack is investigated, whether the attacker has been killed or is held by the security forces, until a recommendation is made, it can take quite some time after the attack and until the Israel Security Agency formulates its position and a decision is issued. That’s the procedure. It didn’t exist until last summer”.

HaMoked stressed that the suspect’s family had nothing to do with his decision to carry out the attack. HaMoked also recalled that in his interrogation shortly after the incident, the youth said that because he had not succeeded to find a job and thus brought shame to his family, he lost the will to live – which drove him to commit the attack. HaMoked maintained that this was a normative family and the youth the “black sheep”, and that the family opposed his actions and in no way supported him.

HaMoked again asserted that the demolition of a home was a strictly prohibited punitive action which harmed innocent people – the targeted family and the neighbors alike. Moreover, HaMoked noted that in the event of attendant damage to the neighboring apartments, the state refused to bear responsibility. On the one hand, the state insisted on demolishing the entire house – although it lies well inside a crowded refugee camp, which increases the likelihood of surrounding damage. On the other hand, the state disclaimed liability for compensating the owners of the adjacent apartments, if there were disturbances during the demolition, which interfered with the course of the demolition by the military.

Judgment has not yet been issued.
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