A former Supreme Court vice president on Monday accused a right-wing lawmaker of “incitement” for saying the court was causing Israeli soldiers’ deaths by not allowing the immediate destruction of Palestinian assailants’ homes after attacks.
In an interview Sunday, Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev called the court “the pillar of massacre,” in a Hebrew play on words of “supporting pillar.” Yogev was criticizing the Supreme Court’s approval process for home demolitions, which he claimed was arduous and therefore caused soldiers to die.
Israel has defended the use of home demolitions — which were reintroduced in 2014 after a nine-year moratorium — as a useful deterrent against terror attacks, but a number of left-wing and human rights groups have criticized the policy as ineffective and a form of collective punishment.
“The High Court of Justice is the the pillar of massacre, not the supporting pillar. Because it doesn’t allow deterrence, soldiers are killed,” Yogev charged.
Speaking on Army Radio, former justice Elyakim Rubinstein said Yogev’s remarks were “populism of the worst kind.”
“What a disgrace,” said Rubinstein, who served on the Supreme Court during 2004-2017 and was Israel’s attorney general before that.
Rubinstein said Yogev has “already specialized in incitement,” referring to the lawmaker’s 2015 comment that the Supreme Court should be bulldozed.
Directly addressing Yogev’s criticism, Rubinstein said the court did not interfere in the majority of home demolitions and that the court’s approval process was consistent with legal norms.
“Usually at the beginning of the process an injunction is issued until the appeal is heard, because only in Sodom and Gomorrah do they first destroy and afterwards judge,” he said.
“Is this what [Yogev] learned from his rabbis? Is this Judaism in a Jewish democratic state?” added Rubinstein.
Yogev apologized Monday for his remarks.
“This was a poor choice of words and I apologize for it,” he said. “In hindsight it was inappropriate to say.”
Speaking with Radio 101.5 FM on Sunday, Yogev called on the military to immediately demolish the home of the Palestinian assailant who killed two Israeli soldiers, Cpt. Ziv Daos and Sgt. Netanel Kahalani, Friday in a West Bank car-ramming.
“Put the High Court of Justice aside for 72 hours. Don’t consider its castrating opinion… 72 hours is enough time to clarify whether there are any [terror] ties with the family, parents, siblings or others,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Saturday that Israel would demolish the home of the driver. The Shin Bet security agency has said he confessed to the attack.