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Court upholds home demolitions for accused Palestinian terrorists

One rented home exempted in High Court ruling; decision lifts temporary injunction on destruction orders imposed after petition

Illustrative photo of a Palestinian woman walking amid the rubble of a house after Israeli security forces demolished the homes of two Palestinians behind attacks in the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber in East Jerusalem, on October 6, 2015. (AFP/THOMAS COEX)
Illustrative photo of a Palestinian woman walking amid the rubble of a house after Israeli security forces demolished the homes of two Palestinians behind attacks in the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber in East Jerusalem, on October 6, 2015. (AFP/THOMAS COEX)

The High Court of Justice on Thursday upheld demolition orders for five homes belonging to the families of Palestinians accused or convicted of carrying out terror attacks. The ruling lifts a temporary injunction on the demolitions issued by Justice Uzi Vogelman last month, in response to petitions submitted on behalf of family members of terrorists whose homes were slated to be destroyed.

The homes in question are those of the alleged murderers of Danny Gonen and Malachi Rosenfeld, who were killed in separate West Bank drive-by shootings this year, as well as those belonging to the families of three Hamas members accused of killing Eitam and Naama Henkin, also in the West Bank, on October 1.

The court, however, did reject one demolition order on the grounds that it involved for a rented apartment in a large building, and that destroying the unit would constitute a disproportionate punishment.

According to a statement from the court, the panel of judges, headed by court president Miriam Naor, also rejected an appeal against the entire practice of home demolitions.

Eitam Henkin and Naama Henkin of Neria, who were murdered in a drive-by terror attack near Nablus on Thursday, October 1, 2015. (screen capture: Channel 2)
Eitam Henkin and Naama Henkin of Neria, who were murdered in a drive-by terror attack near Nablus on Thursday, October 1, 2015. (screen capture: Channel 2)

The original demolition orders came shortly after ministers approved a package of measures aimed at stamping out a recent wave of terror attacks, including expedited home demolitions as a punitive and deterrent measure.

The court’s temporary injunction on the demolitions was met with a harsh rebuke from the Israeli right, and Vogelman had been appointed a personal guard due to threats on his life in the wake of the decision, Channel 10 reported late last month.

Last month, the army razed the Hebron home of a Palestinian terrorist who ran over and stabbed to death Israeli civilian Dalia Lemkus during a wave of violence nearly a year ago. The demolition came after the High Court rejected a petition against the move from the family.

The practice of demolishing the family homes of terrorists has been criticized by non-governmental groups, but government officials have defended its use as a deterrent against attacks. Critics claim that in addition to being a form of collective punishment, house demolitions could motivate family members of terrorists to launch attacks themselves.

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