High Court approves demolition of home of Passover eve terrorist

Wife and son of terrorist who killed police officer Baruch Mizrahi were "up to their neck" in father's terror plans, justice rules.

Baruch Mizrahi (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Baruch Mizrahi
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
The wife and son of the terrorist who killed police officer Baruch Mizrahi were “up to their neck” in their father’s terrorism plans, justices ruled on Tuesday.
The High Court of Justice on Tuesday ruled against the request of a human-rights group to block the state’s demolition of the home of Ziad Awad, who has been indicted for murdering senior police officer Baruch Mizrahi and injuring his family on a West Bank road on Passover eve earlier this year.
The three-justice panel, comprised of Supreme Court Deputy President Miriam Naor, Justice Yoram Danziger, and Justice Uri Shoham, heard a petition by the Hamoked human-rights group on behalf of 12 members of Awad’s family to block the demolition of the multi-residence structure in Idna, near Hebron.
The state had committed on Monday not to perform the demolition until at least 12 hours after a final court order, meaning the demolition could be carried out as early as Tuesday night.
B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories blasted the ruling as “not surprising,” saying the court “has been giving a green light for 35 years” to such demolitions. It added that the court does not even ask fundamental questions about the practice, confining itself to technical aspects of the demolitions.
Hamoked had slammed the pending demolition order as a blatant violation of international law.
There is a debate whether house demolitions can be considered a military necessity under Article 53 of the First Geneva Convention (1949), or whether they are an illegal form of collective punishment under the convention’s Article 33.
Most countries do not view deterrent demolitions as valid, accepting only demolitions relating to a real-time battlefield situation.
But Justice Naor wrote that “we are not talking about an uninvolved family who was caught up in ‘the sins of the father’ against their will.”
Rather, she said that Awad’s son and wife were “up to their neck” in his activities, even if they were “not the one who fired the weapon nor present at the moment of the attack.”
The wife “knew about the hiding of the weapon and about Awad’s firing practice, facts which weaken the ethical strength” of the family’s claims that they are being unjustifiably and collectively punished, the panel determined.
The court said that the specific plan for the demolition was proportionate and reasonable since the state had committed to demolish only the west wing of the structure, where Awad’s immediate family lives, and not the east wing or underground storage areas connected to Awad’s extended family.
Hamoked noted this as a change from the state’s original plan to demolish the whole structure, and viewed as a partial victory in its efforts opposing the demolition.
Next, Naor focused on the state’s emphasis on the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank, citing statistics provided by the state to prove it, such as the state having had to prevent 96 planned attacks in the West Bank in May alone.
She cited an increase in kidnapping attempts, culminating in “the kidnapping of the three teenagers who were on their way home from school.”
She added that the panel was ready to submit its decision late Monday night, when the court learned of the teens’ death, and that “our hearts are with their families.”
The court rejected Hamoked’s argument that the house should not be demolished at least until Awad has been convicted of murdering Mizrahi, seeing that at present he has only been indicted.
It said that domestic law regarding house demolitions allows them to go forward as long as there is sufficient “administrative evidence” suggesting that an attacker lived in the house in question.
The court disregarded Hamoked’s argument that neither Awad nor his immediate family owns the structure, but that it is owned by Awad’s brother, stating that prior precedent on house demolitions only requires a connection between the attacker and the residence being demolished, not actual ownership.