High Court freezes house demolitions for Har Nof killers
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High Court freezes house demolitions for Har Nof killers

Ruling comes after families file appeal, rights groups petition against practice; razing of two other terrorists’ homes also halted

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

The two terrorists from Jabel Mukaber who carried out the attack on the Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem, November 18, 2014 (screen capture: Channel 2)
The two terrorists from Jabel Mukaber who carried out the attack on the Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem, November 18, 2014 (screen capture: Channel 2)

The High Court on Thursday issued a temporary injunction barring the government from razing the East Jerusalem homes of two terrorists who killed four worshipers and a policeman at a synagogue last week.

The families of Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, cousins from East Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood who perpetrated the terror attack last week at a synagogue in the capital’s Har Nof neighborhood, were said to receive demolition orders for their homes last Thursday.

The High Court decision came after an appeal by Palestinian rights groups on behalf of the terrorists’ families, and after eight human rights groups launched a petition with the legal body declaring the punitive measure a “war crime.”

On Wednesday, the High Court similarly put a halt to two other house demolitions: for Mu’taz Hijazi, the Palestinian man who shot Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick, and car-ramming terrorist Ibrahim al-Akary of Shufat. Akary killed two people, Druze border policeman Jedan Assad and 17-year-old Shalom Ba’adani, on November 5 when he plowed his car into a busy light rail station in Jerusalem. Both men were killed by Israeli forces.

The joint petition by eight human rights groups — including B’Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights — charges that the demolition orders, based on a British Mandate procedure dating from 1945 and adopted by the State of Israel as a deterrent measure, “is illegal in that it is a violation of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and Israeli administrative and constitutional law.”

The petition argued that all the Israeli experts on the subject “that they know of” are opposed to the measure, viewing it as a form of collective punishment.

The punitive measure has been condemned by the international community, while Israel maintains the practice is an effective deterrent for would-be terrorists. Last week, US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said the demolitions “are counterproductive in an already tense situation.”

“This is a practice I would remind that the Israeli government itself discontinued in the past, recognizing its effects,” he said.

Last week, Israel destroyed the Silwan home of Abdelrahman al-Shaludi. The 21-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem had rammed his car into Israeli pedestrians in October, killing 3-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and Karen Yemima Muscara, an Ecuadorean woman studying in the city, and was killed by security forces.

The demolition was one of a group of punitive actions the government has sought to take against people accused of terror and the families of attackers.

The home of Palestinian terrorist Abdelrahman al-Shaludi in East Jerusalem after it was destroyed by Israel on November 19, 2014 Photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
The home of Palestinian terrorist Abdelrahman al-Shaludi in East Jerusalem after it was destroyed by Israel on November 19, 2014 Photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan canceled the residency permit of the widow of one of the Har Nof synagogue killers, effectively deporting her out of Israeli territory and stripping her of any financial or social benefits.

The Abu Jamal cousins stormed a Har Nof synagogue last Tuesday morning, killing Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kupinsky, Rabbi Kalman Levine and Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg. Zidan Saif, a policeman, was critically hurt by gunfire and later succumbed to his wounds, bringing the death toll to five.

The Israeli government is also withholding the bodies of the two cousins, who were shot dead at the scene by police, as a punitive measure.

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