Israel’s High Court of Justice Cancels Punitive Home Demolition
The Court accepts petition filed by human rights organization HaMoked on behalf of eleven members of the Abu Bakr family from the town of Yaabed
In a majority opinion issued today, Israel’s High Court of Justice cancelled an Israeli military order for a punitive home demolition in the West Bank. The military had ordered the demolition of the third floor apartment of the Abu Bakr home in Yaabed, near Jenin.
The father of the family, Nizmi Abu Bakr, is accused of dropping a concrete block from the roof of the house on soldiers during an operation in the town, killing the soldier Amit Ben Yigal. HaMoked filed the petition on behalf of the mother of the family and her eight children, as well as two other family members who live in the building.
Justices Mazuz and Karra accepted HaMoked’s petition, ruling that in issuing the demolition order, the military had ignored the fact that nine innocent people live in the apartment, including seven minors. This tips the scales against demolishing the whole apartment, the judges ruled, leaving open the possibility that the military could issue a new order to seal off only the assailant’s room.
Justice Karra noted his concern that the use of the Defense Emergency Regulation 119 allowing punitive home demolition has become routine, contrary to the military’s statements that it is reserved for exceptional situations. The two judges of the majority both repeated their view that the Court should revisit the legality of punitive home demolitions as a whole, in light of principles of both Israeli and international law.
Jessica Montell, Executive Director of HaMoked said in response: “We welcome this decision, which saves a mother and her eight children, against whom there are no allegations of wrongdoing, from being made homeless. However, the Court should have ruled against the whole policy of punitive demolitions as an illegal collective punishment, with doubtful effectiveness as a deterrent, even according to the military. It is long past time to end this barbaric practice, which contradicts basic principles of morality and justice.”