Israeli Army Demolishes West Bank Homes of Tel Aviv Attackers

Israel’s High Court approved demolition two weeks ago.

The family house of Sarona Market attacker Khaled Mahamra after it was razed by Israeli troops.
Nasser Shiyoukhi / AP

Israeli troops on Thursday demolished the homes of the two terrorists who murdered four Israelis and wounded another 41 in Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market complex in June.

The attackers, Khaled Mahamra and Mohammad Mahamra, are cousins who lived in Yatta and Khirbet Reka, both towns near Hebron. The two were captured by police after the shooting attack in the upscale restaurant and shopping complex in the heart of Tel Aviv.

The four killed in the attack were: Ido Ben Ari, 42, of Ramat Gan; Ilana Naba, 39, of Tel Aviv; Michael Feige, 58, from Midreshet Ben-Gurion in the Negev, and Mila Mishayev, 32, of Rishon Letzion.

Two weeks ago, the High Court of Justice denied petitions by the families of the two terrorists, paving the way for the demolition of the families’ homes. Supreme Court justices Esther Hayut, Uri Shoham and Uzi Vogelman unanimously approved the demolition, with the exception of the lower story of the home of one of the attackers.

Khaled’s family, represented by Hamoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual, argued in their petition that there was no connection between him and the house slated for demolition; for the past two-and-a-half years Khaled had been studying in Jordan and would come home infrequently. The family also claimed that he returned home only just prior to his arrest because he had decided to stop his studies and work in Israel illegally for a few months.

A relative gestures in front of the family house of Palestinian assailant Mohammad Mahamra after it was partially blown up by Israeli troops in a West Bank village near Hebron.
Mussa Qawasma / Reuters

Mohammad’s family, also represented by Hamoked, argued that the lower floors of their home should not be destroyed, since Mohammad lived on the third floor, in a separate unit. The other floors house the parents and four of their eight children, as well as a large storeroom and a candy factory that provides the family with its livelihood.

The family also argued that had they known of Mohammad’s plans in advance, they would have immediate taken steps to prevent him from taking part in the attack.

In response, the state argued that it had classified information showing that Mohammad’s brother was privy to Mohammad’s intent to carry out the attack, as well as information about the father’s access to weapons.

Shoham wrote in his opinion that the court should totally reject the petition by Khaled’s family and partially accept Mohammad’s family’s petition by demolishing only the third floor.

“There’s a need to take exceptional steps to create the required deterrence, in order to try and limit as much as possible the criminal terrorist activity that does not balk at the indiscriminate murder of Jews just because they’re Jews,” Shoham wrote.

His colleague Hayut concurred with Shoham’s ruling. Vogelman, who has in the past questioned the efficacy of home demolitions, also concurred but added a personal objection in principle to razing the houses of terrorists’ families.

“As I’ve already said elsewhere, although I do not share what’s stated in it, this regulation [allowing such demolition] obligates us until it is changed, if ever, by an expanded panel,” Vogelman wrote, and added, “On this basis I submit to the decision reached by my colleagues.”