The home of Ziad Awad, indicted for the killing of off-duty police officer Baruch Mizrahi on April 14 in the West Bank, will be demolished by the IDF, the High Court ruled Tuesday, turning back an NGO’s appeal to bar the military response.
The Awad family was granted 12 hours from the announcement to evacuate their residence in the Palestinian village of Idhna, near Hebron. The top part of the structure, the apartment where the terrorist resided, is slated for destruction, but the rest of the building will remain untouched.
In the court decision, the justices dismissed claims by petitioners that the demolition would harm innocent family members, writing that the family was far from guiltless, Awad’s son and wife having known and actively collaborated with Awad’s plan.
The two are accountable, “even if he [the son] wasn’t the one who shot the gun and wasn’t present during the attack,” the decision said. His wife, “as it emerged from the son’s statements, knew about the hidden weapon and Awad’s threats.”
Awad, a convicted Hamas terrorist, was released in 2011 as part of the deal to free Gilad Shalit and re-arrested on May 7 along with his son Izz Eddin Hassan Ziad Awad for the Passover eve murder of Mizrahi, a 47-year-old father of five, near Hebron.
In response to the court’s decision, the widow of the victim, Hadas Mizrahi, said Tuesday that the demolition was “the minimum” Israel could do.
“They didn’t have mercy on us, so why should we have mercy on them?” she told Channel 2.
Mizrahi also reiterated her appeal to the Israeli government to prevent all future prisoners releases, and called for the state to introduce the death penalty.
After Awad’s arrest, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that his family’s house be demolished to deter Palestinians from engaging in terrorist activity in the future. The state announced last week that the building would be demolished.
However, the Center for the Defense of the Individual (Hamoked) appealed the state’s decision at the High Court, saying it was illegal according to international law.
The court convened Monday to discuss the appeal and debate the merits of the state’s case. While the appellants’ attorney urged the state to refrain from sanctioning a move that would punish the innocent relatives currently residing in the house, Hadas Mizrahi issued a heartfelt plea to the court, stressing the importance of deterrence to preventing future attacks on innocents.
“You talk about the terrorist. Look at us. We were innocents and suffered,” she said.
“We were riding in a car on Passover eve, we were shot at. The terrorist continued to shoot. He hit Baruch. He shot at our heads. I managed to hide the children. I escaped him. What cruelty,” she said, sobbing.
“We hadn’t done anything. We were innocent. The terrorist’s family hid him. He went on. He went back home. We were hurt,” she said.
“The State of Israel decided to free the terrorists in the Shalit exchange. [But] we need deterrence in this country, and one of the methods of achieving that is by demolishing the terrorist’s house. I’m calling out. I’m hurt. I was wounded by bullets, I’m handicapped, I have five children who are physically injured. Look at me,” she cried. “More families will get hurt.”
The state defended its decision as legal according to both Israeli and international law. In its statement, the state said Awad had violated the terms of his release from prison by taking up terrorist activity once more and abusing his authority as an imam to call for suicide bombings against Israeli targets.
It added that the Awad family home had been slated for demolition for years – even more so now that it was found to be a hotbed of terrorist activity.
“The terrorist and his family lived in an apartment that was slated for demolition in the years leading up to the terrorist’s arrest. As evidenced by his son’s testimony, the terrorist also conducted preparatory activities, including experiments with weapons using a silencer, in the shed of the building,” wrote the state.