The High Court of Justice rejected a petition Tuesday that sought the demolition of the homes of the Jewish killers of East Jerusalem teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir, who was murdered in a grisly 2014 revenge attack.
Abu Khdeir was abducted and killed in East Jerusalem on July 1, 2014, by three Jewish attackers. An autopsy found that the 16-year-old had been burned alive in a forest outside Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem District Court handed down a life sentence, plus 20 years in jail, to Yosef Ben David, found to be the ringleader of the group that murdered Abu Khdeir. The two other killers — both minors — were sentenced to life in prison and 21 years, respectively.
Israel employs the controversial measure of home demolitions against the families of Palestinian terrorists, with some security agencies arguing it serves as a deterrent for further terror attacks. Critics charge that the practice unjustly punishes whole families for crimes committed by individuals.
The family of Abu Khdeir had demanded the same measure be applied to the family homes of the Jewish murderers.
“The state needs to operate in the same way against Jewish terrorists as it does against Palestinians. Just like the homes of Palestinian terrorists are sealed, the same should be done to Jews,” the family wrote it its 2016 petition demanding the demolition of the killers’ homes.
A month before the petition was filed, the Defense Ministry told the family in a letter that there was no need to demolish the homes of Jewish terrorists at this stage, as the attacks are too infrequent to warrant the deterrent action.
However Abu Khdeir family lawyer Muhanned Jbara pointed to an uptick in Jewish terror attacks, including the firebombing of a West Bank home that left three member of the same family dead.
“We maintain that in the recent period, following the increase of attacks by Jews, like against Abu Khdeir, like the Dawabsha home, like the arson against a coexistence school, like the incident of the shooting in Hebron, there are many voices, including among Jews, that say this side must be deterred as well. And therefore indeed their homes must be demolished.”
In its ruling, the High Court affirmed that the anti-terror regulation that allows for home demolitions “applies equally to Arab terrorists and to Jewish terrorists, each case according to its circumstances.”
But it noted that the practice is only justified for its possible deterrent power, and so must be carried out in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack and have a reasonable chance of deterring future attacks. Given the long delay between the attack and the filing of the appeal for demolition, the specific appeal in this case was rejected.
The court has repeatedly stopped demolitions of Palestinian terrorists’ homes on the same grounds of a months-long delay between an attack and an attempted demolition.
Dov Leiber contributed to this report.
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