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Supreme Court to state: Explain why terrorists’ homes still stand

At appeal against court ban on new demolition orders, justices question failure to raze houses approved for destruction

Israel Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor (seated, center) during a court hearing, October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor (seated, center) during a court hearing, October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Supreme Court ordered the state Thursday to explain why it has left several homes of convicted terrorists standing, despite being given approval to raze them two years ago, as the government tries to press its case on further demolitions relating to the perpetrators of more recent acts of terror.

The court gave the state until Monday to justify why it didn’t tear the down the houses for which it had received permission in 2013.

The hearing was called after the court slapped an injunction last week on a government order to demolish the family homes of several terrorists it says were involved in attacks over the past year.

The state says it wants to be able to raze buildings within days of an attack as a punitive measure against terrorists, arguing that such a measure serves as a deterrent to others.

All of the suspects whose homes were slated to be torn down last week were apprehended alive and have not yet stood trial.

During the hearing, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor cut short the mother of terror victim Danny Gonen as she delivered a stinging critique of the justices.

Dvora Gonen, whose son was shot and killed by Arab terrorists in June, castigated the Supreme Court judges during the time she was given to address the court.

“The murdered have become invisible. You turned the victims into the guilty. I hear how unfortunate the families of the terrorists are. What about us?” Gonen said.

Danny Gonen, 25, from Lod, who was killed Friday, June 19, 2015 in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Dolev by a Palestinian gunman (Facebook)
Danny Gonen, 25, from Lod, who was killed Friday, June 19, 2015 in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Dolev by a Palestinian gunman (Facebook)

At that point Naor interrupted her, rebuking her for the comments. In an unusual move, Naor told the court that “even a bereaved mother has limits as to what she can say here.”

“The lady will not use the rights given to her here in order to hurl accusations,” Naor said.

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

The government was hoping to expedite the demolitions as part of a package of measures against attackers and their families aimed at deterring future attacks.

The decision to freeze the demolitions, issued by Supreme Court judge Uzi Vogelman last week, sparked a fierce public debate over the role of the court.

Jewish Home Knesset Member Moti Yogev said Vogelman had “placed himself on the side of [Israel’s] enemies.”

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also expressed dissatisfaction in recent weeks over the court system’s delaying of measures against terrorists and their families, he distanced himself from the comments following a public outcry against Yogev.

MK Moti Yogev of the Jewish Home party (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
MK Moti Yogev of the Jewish Home party (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“The judiciary does not side with our enemies. It is the very foundation of our existence and the cornerstone of our values,” Netanyahu said Tuesday, during a memorial service for slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

In July, Yogev had said the top court should be “bulldozed” for a ruling ordering the state to demolish illegal Jewish homes in the settlement of Beit El. At that time, too, Netanyahu’s office released a statement on Israel’s respect for its courts and the need to uphold the rule of law.

Despite the delay, the court is not expected to cancel the demolition orders altogether and will deliver a ruling on the hearing in the coming days.

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