I’m happy to inform you that last week, the High Court of Justice accepted HaMoked’s petition to cancel the punitive demolition of the home of a woman and her three children in the village of Beit Kahil near Hebron.
For over two decades, HaMoked has led the legal battle against Israel’s punitive home demolition policy, used against the innocent family members of Palestinians who committed attacks against Israelis. Though HaMoked has argued time and again that this is an unlawful form of collective punishment, the High Court of Justice regularly approves these demolitions, accepting Israel’s claim that their purpose is to deter potential assailants.
Now, for the first time since 2016, the High Court accepted a petition by HaMoked against a punitive demolition order, which targeted the home of a man who is accused of involvement in the murder of Dvir Sorek in August 2019. The man’s wife and three young children (aged 2, 7 and 11) live in the apartment that was intended for demolition, which is owned by the man’s elderly father. Though the military had already demolished the homes of four other men indicted for the attack, it issued a demolition order against the man’s home in January 2020 – five months after the attack took place. This was the basis for the Court’s decision to cancel the order, ruling that the passage of time since the attack and the man’s arrest “substantially reduces the deterrent power of the demolition order”.
The Court did not rule that these demolitions are inherently illegal, as HaMoked argued, and based its judgement solely on the delay in issuing the order. However, Justice Baron added that “the demolition order… aims to demolish the house where ‘Atawneh’s wife and three minor children live, who are innocent and had no involvement in the attack – neither before nor after the fact. Already on these grounds there is a real concern that the demolition order is used as a purely punitive sanction.”
We were so glad to inform this family, in the middle of the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, that their home had been saved. This achievement is a stepping stone in our broader effort to have the High Court conduct a principled review of the punitive demolition policy, recognizing that it is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and basic principles of justice.
Executive Director of HaMoked