High Court issues rare rejection of terrorist home demolition

Justices approve house demolition of Henkin killer's family.

December 1, 2015 17:09
2 minute read.
IDF troops bomb the family home of a Palestinian suicide bomber in Bethlehem

IDF troops bomb the family home of a Palestinian suicide bomber in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The High Court of Justice on Tuesday issued a rare rejection of a state request to demolish a residence belonging to the family of an accused terrorist, while approving another house demolition request in a heated split decision.

The decision was a 3-0 unanimous vote by the court’s vice president Elyakim Rubinstein, Justice Menahem Mazuz and Justice Zvi Zilbertal, though Rubinstein said he would have allowed a partial demolition, more limited than what the state requested.

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The state had sought to demolish the residence of Nur a-Din Hashiya’s family following his alleged stabbing and murder in 2014 of IDF soldier Almog Shiloni near Tel Aviv’s HaHagana train station.

In a separate decision, the High Court approved the demolition of the home of Rajoub Aluya, who security forces have alleged was involved in the October murders of Naama and Eitam Henkin.

That decision was a 2-1 vote, with Justices Uri Shoham and Neal Hendel voting in favor and Mazuz voting against.

On November 12, the High Court approved five home demolitions and rejected one with regard to the families of terrorists who murdered Malachi Rosenfeld, Danny Gonen and the Henkins.

The one demolition rejected was unusual, but appeared to be a one-time ruling since the family of the terrorist were only short-term renters and not the owners of the residence.

Tuesday’s ruling signals a stronger shift by the court to push back against some demolitions since the reasoning was based more on the significant delay between the demolition order and the 2014 incident – a rationale that could stop many other demolitions.

The court explained that the basis for destroying the houses of terrorists’ families was not punitive, but rather deterrence, and that no deterrence could reasonably be achieved after a year-long lag in carrying out the demolition.

Rubinstein did not totally agree, but also objected to the state’s delay and thought the state should submit set criteria for when and how to perform home demolitions to avoid future delays.

Also noteworthy was Mazuz’s dissent from the approved demolition, where he challenged the High Court’s ruling a few weeks ago that it did not need to carefully analyze whether the current round of demolitions are in line with international law.

Mazuz also noted that Aluya was more secondary in the Henkin murders than others involved whose homes had already been demolished.

In contrast, while Shoham recognized some exceptional aspects to the case, he also seemed to heavily consider the current context of what many are describing as the third intifada as giving the state a stronger basis for house demolitions.

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