High Court Asks Israel Why Jewish Terrorists' Homes Aren’t Razed Like Palestinians'

Israel has always claimed that demolishing the homes of Palestinian terrorists was an effective counter-terrorism measure.

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Suha and Hussein Abu Khdeir, center, parents of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, hold posters with his portrait after the reading of the verdict in his killing, at the Jerusalem District Court, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015.
Suha and Hussein Abu Khdeir, center, parents of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, hold posters with his portrait after the reading of the verdict in his killing, at the Jerusalem District Court, Nov. 30, 2015.Credit: AFP
Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

The High Court of Justice this week ordered the state to explain whether demolishing the homes of Jewish terrorists would be an effective counter-terrorism measure, which is the claim made for the razing of Palestinian homes.

The court said it wanted the state’s response to the question because it wasn’t clear whether senior defense officials had seriously discussed the issue.

The decision, which gave the state 30 days to provide its answer, was handed down in a petition filed by the family of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the East Jerusalem teen who was murdered by three Jews in 2014. The petition demanded that the state demolish or seal the homes of his murderers.

“Before we decide on this case, and because we aren’t sure the issue raised in the petition has been fully discussed at the highest levels, we request a supplementary brief within 30 days,” wrote justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Neal Hendel and Zvi Zylbertal in response to the state’s claim that demolishing the homes of Jewish terrorists would not be as effective as demolishing the homes of Palestinian terrorists.

Specifically, they said, the brief should address the following question: “Even if the Palestinian population produces many more terror attacks against Jews, and thus this regulation might be more effective in preventing Palestinian terror attacks, would deterring Jewish attackers by use of this regulation not help to prevent attacks against Palestinians?”

In addition, they asked the state to discuss the implications of its response for the specific case of Abu Khdeir’s killers.

Before filing its petition, the Abu Khdeir family asked the defense ministry to demolish or seal the homes of their son’s killers. The ministry responded that there was no need to do so, because there was no need to deter Jewish terrorists.

“Considering the extent of serious hate crimes in the Jewish community, the need to use this power doesn’t arise,” wrote Ahaz Ben-Ari, the ministry’s legal advisor, in his reply to the Abu Khdeirs.

He also quoted a ruling by High Court Justice Noam Sohlberg, who wrote, “There’s no place for symmetry ... We shouldn’t deny the truth; there are certainly attacks by Jews against Arabs, and there’s certainly a need to employ the full force of criminal law and to take appropriate action. But the differences outweigh the similarities; the gap is enormous – in the quality of the attacks, the quantity, and above all the attitude of the environment: the wall-to-wall, vehement and decisive condemnations by the Jewish community, which isn’t the case on the other side.”

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