A BULLDOZER at work in Kiryat Arba, near Hebron.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
House demolitions of attackers’ families are prohibited where the attacker was mentally incompetent, said Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit in a letter published on Monday.
Mandelblit’s letter explained that the only legal basis for house demolitions was deterring future attackers, and that if the attacker himself was mentally incompetent that legal basis became invalid.
Though released on Monday to counter media reports which Mandelblit’s office said were mischaracterizing his decision, the letter was actually sent to then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman on October 31 in explaining why the state would not go forward with demolishing the house of the family of the Palestinian who murdered Adiel Coleman.
Reports Monday that the National Insurance Institute was recognizing that the attack on Coleman was a nationalist murder put pressure on Mandelblit for appearing to view the issue differently.
At a hearing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that day, Coleman’s sister-in-law, Bat-El, complained that the IDF had initially approved demolishing the house of Adiel’s killer, but later relented when the killer’s family presented evidence that he was mentally disturbed.
Mandelblit’s letter was not addressing all the implications of the attack on Coleman, only how it related to house demolitions, an analysis which might be different than NII’s analysis of what kinds of benefits to pay the Coleman family.
At the October 31 hearing, Bat-El Coleman expressed indignation that the IDF believed that someone who had passed a Shin Bet and civil administration security check to get a working permit in Israel and who had traveled long and complex distances to carry out the attack, could be mentally incompetent.
She begged the IDF to carry out the demolition “to avoid there being more victim-families.”
Other victims families called for both expelling the families of terrorists and for passing a law to ensure house demolitions were carried out within a much shorter period of time.
But Mandelblit and his office were adamant that the evidence of the killer being mentally incompetent was cogent.
The attorney-general also said that Israel was always walking a fine-line with house demolitions since most of the world characterized them as illegal collective punishment.
In addition, the letter warned that even on Israel’s High Court of Justice, which has approved most requested demolitions to date, there were justices looking for an excuse or for the state to overplay its hand on house demolitions so that they could push back against the practice in a broader way.
In the same October 31 Knesset hearing, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avi Dichter butted heads with Mandelblit over his wish to expand house demolitions
of Palestinians to attempted murder ideological attacks, and not only murder attacks.
He asked why the IDF was only carrying out house demolitions of Palestinian families connected to ideological terrorist murderers, when attempted murderers were just as bad, but simply happened to have been less “successful” in accomplishing their intent.
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