Center for the Defence of the Individual - High Court of Justice approved the demolition of another West Bank home: a woman and her four minor children will be made homeless
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High Court of Justice approved the demolition of another West Bank home: a woman and her four minor children will be made homeless

On February 4, 2022, a majority of the High Court of Justice (HCJ) approved the demolition of an apartment on the top floor of a two-story house in the village of Silat al-Harithiya in the West Bank. This is the home of a woman and her four minor children, aged 4-10, in which the father of the family also lived prior to his arrest in connection to a fatal shooting of an Israeli on December 16, 2021.

In the majority opinion, Justice Mintz rejected HaMoked’s principled arguments that this constituted prohibited collective masked as deterrence. Mintz also rejected HaMoked’s argument regarding the case itself, whereby there was no justification for using Regulation 119 so long as the nature of the allegations and evidence against the as-yet-unindicted suspect remained unknown. Regarding the issue of the sanction’s effectiveness as a deterrent, Justice Mintz wrote that “the basic premise is that the factual foundation presented by the Respondents [ex parte]… is accurate and credible”.

In the minority, Justice Kara reiterated his position, that the principled issues surrounding use of Regulation 119 required a hearing before an expanded panel. Kara also repeated his stance that given the complete innocence of the household members – who had no foreknowledge of the act and had not condoned it after the fact – “use of the sanction constitutes unreasonable and disproportionate collective punishment without legal basis”. The Justice also clarified that the decision to demolish the home before the end of the investigation regarding the suspect, “raises legal questions that are not unsubstantial”, and again maintained that the premise that demolition brought about deterrence was without any real foundation and that “use of such a harmful sanction… cannot be entirely based on a ‘totality’ of vague estimates. It should be based on clear and substantial data, collected using a clear and valid methodology. In the case in hand no such data was presented… therefore, the decision to demolish the apartment has been made in an uninformed manner, and hence it suffers, in my opinion, of unreasonableness and disproportionality”. Kara also criticized the fact that the family had first heard it on the media that the military had decided to issue a demolition order targeting their home, and held that there was substance to the petitioners’ claim that this indicated that the actual purpose of the sanction was punishment rather than deterrence.