On February 20, 2022, the High Court of Justice (HCJ) unanimously approved the demolition of a two-apartment house in the village of Silat al-Harithiya in the West Bank. This is the home of a woman, her two daughters and two grandchildren, all living in the ground-floor apartment and that of her son, daughter-in-law and toddler grandson, who live in the second-floor apartment. The demolition order pursuant to Regulation 119 of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations was issued following the arrest of the father of the family, indicted over the fatal shooting of an Israeli on December 16, 2021.
As before, the HCJ rejected out of hand HaMoked’s principled arguments that the demolition constituted collective punishment prohibited under international law. As to the specific case in hand, the Court deviated from the relevant case law in recent years, whereby a punitive demolition order should only target the assailant’s actual place of residence (be it an entire apartment or a single room), and ruled that all of the building, with its two apartments, should be demolished, despite the fact that the second-story apartment had been built by the accused man’s sons back in 2010, while he was serving time in prison, and that he had never used it as his home. In this case, the Court maintained, there was “a unique and significant need for deterrence by issuing a demolition order for the structure in its entirety”, given the finding that the accused man played a major role in planning the attack and also “preached at a mosque”.
The judgment, written by Justice Mintz, unreservedly adopted the stat’s position regarding the measure’s effectiveness as a deterrent, ruling that “once a substantiated foundation regarding the deterring potential of the Regulation has been presented by the Respondents, there is no call to assume otherwise” (emphasis added). This, despite HaMoked’s objection to the ex parte presentation of classified material and its demand that the material concerning the accused man’s residency tie to the second-story apartment be presented openly.