Victim's father pleads with High Court to reconsider

Soldier’s mom says he’s ‘been killed again’ as court bars razing suspect’s home

Nava Revivo slams justices for blocking home demolition of Palestinian accused of killing Amit Ben-Ygal: ‘God forbid the same thing will happen to the next soldiers’

Nava Revivo, center, mother of late IDF soldier Amit Ben-Ygal, cries at his funeral at the cemetery in Be'er Ya'akov, May 12, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Nava Revivo, center, mother of late IDF soldier Amit Ben-Ygal, cries at his funeral at the cemetery in Be'er Ya'akov, May 12, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The mother of an Israeli soldier killed during an operation in the West Bank strongly criticized the High Court of Justice’s decision Monday to block the military from demolishing the home of the Palestinian charged with the killing.

Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Ygal, 21, was killed in May by a brick allegedly thrown at him by Nazmi Abu Bakr, 49, in the village of Yabed. While forbidding the Israel Defense Forces from demolishing the home, the High Court said the military could seal one room in the apartment of Abu Bakr, 49.

“My son was killed again today,” Nava Revivo told Channel 12 news in regard to the ruling. “Amit won’t come back, but God forbid the same thing will happen to the next soldiers.”

Revivo also suggested the matter shouldn’t be up to the High Court to decide.

“My son loved the Land of Israel, it can’t be that this is the decision. It can’t be that a decision like this is made at all,” she said.

Nava Revivo, mother of late IDF soldier Amit Ben-Ygal, speaks in an interview with Channel 12 news on August 10, 2020. (Screen capture: Channel 12)

Baruch Ben-Ygal, Amit’s father, released a Facebook video showing an Israeli flag flying at half-staff at a cemetery.

“It doesn’t need to be at the top today,” a tearful Ben-Ygal said. “This is a bad day for the State of Israel.”

In an interview with Channel 13, the father, wearing his son’s dogtag, said the decision “made me weep.” He said he drove to the cemetery after hearing about the court decision to apologize to his son.

He called on the court to reconsider, and to think of Ben-Ygal’s family instead of Abu Bakr’s.

Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Ygal, who was killed when a rock was thrown at his head during an arrest raid in the northern West Bank village of Yabed on May 12, 2020. (Social media)

“Our pain isn’t pain? Our misery isn’t misery? We’re innocent and our home has been destroyed. The terrorist destroyed two homes. Am I responsible for the fact that the new profile of a terrorist is a 40-plus man with eight kids? In the worst-case scenario, they’re going to seal up a room. That’s crazy to me.”

He said he wasn’t a critic of the court. “I’ve never protested against the High Court, but today I say to the judges, you made a mistake. I ask the chief justice to hold a new hearing, not for revenge but for deterrence.”

Ben-Ygal’s girlfriend likewise slammed the ruling.

“I’m ashamed people like this exist in Israel,” Osher Hanum wrote on Instagram, according to Channel 12 news, apparently referring to the High Court judges.

Family and friends attend the funeral of IDF soldier Amit Ben-Ygal at the cemetery in the central city of Beer Yaakov, May 12, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

In the split decision, Justices Menachem Mazuz and George Karra called to cancel the demolition, reasoning that Abu Bakr’s wife and eight children, who were not involved in the attack, still live there. Justice Yael Willner was in favor of carrying out the measure so that it could serve its purpose as a deterrence against future attacks on Israeli forces operating in the West Bank.

“His family is ‘innocent?’ And what are we?” Hanum said. “There are no words but disgrace.”

Monday’s ruling was condemned by prominent Israeli lawmakers, with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz calling for a second hearing. Many ministers from Netanyahu’s Likud party slammed the court for its ruling.

According to the Ynet news site, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit was set to hold deliberations on whether to ask the High Court to rehear the case with an expanded bench.

Channel 13 reported that public anger at the ruling has led police to up security around the homes of the justices who penned the ruling.

The ruling was welcomed by the HaMoked legal aid group, which filed the appeal on behalf of the Abu family, saying it “saved an innocent mother and eight children from being thrown into the street.”

Israeli troops measure the home of a Palestinian man suspected of killing a soldier with a brick, in the West Bank village of Yabed on June 11, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Shin Bet security service said in May that Abu Bakr confessed to being the one who threw the brick that killed Ben-Ygal during the West Bank raid. He was arrested along with several other people who were believed to have been in the building at the time, and confessed several weeks later, according to the security agency.

The soldier was killed in the predawn hours of May 12, after the Golani Reconnaissance Battalion carried out a series of arrests in Yabed.

The military began preparations in June to demolish the home, leading the Abu Bakr family to file an appeal against the measure.

Home demolitions are a controversial policy that the IDF says helps deter future terror attacks. Over the years, a number of Israeli defense officials have questioned the efficacy of the practice and human rights activists have denounced it as unfair collective punishment. They are often carried out before conviction.

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