Israeli Court Orders Halt to Demolition of Terror Accomplices's Homes

The court ruled that demolishing the house of a family whose members were not involved in the hostile act is a harsh sanction that should be used carefully.

Ofer Vaknin

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday issued an order preventing the state from demolishing the homes of two of three accomplices of the Palestinian terrorists who killed an Israeli couple in the West Bank last October. The court approved the demolition of a third collaborator’s home.

Three Palestinians were charged with raising funds for the terrorists, giving them orders, supplying them with weapons and driving them to the attack site, where they murdered Na’ama and Eitam Henkin. The defendants, aided by the human rights group HaMoked-Center for the Defense of the Individual, petitioned the High Court against the order to demolish their houses.

The court ruled that demolishing the house of a family whose members were not involved in the hostile act is a harsh sanction that should be used carefully. It approved the demolition of one of the accomplices, who was charged with checking the route on which the attack took place and driving the three terrorists after the attack. He also stored one of their weapons in his house.

“I was convinced that his involvement in the attack is direct and immediate,” Justice Noam Sohlberg wrote in his verdict. As for the other two accomplices, he wrote they did not carry out the murderous attack but raised money and supplied weapons. He said the other two accomplices’ cases should be discussed again, and ordered the state to explain why their houses should be demolished. Justice Isaac Amit supported Sohlberg’s position and joined his ruling.

Justice Anat Baron disagreed with her two colleagues, objecting to the demolition of any of the three accomplices’ houses. She said the state had not claimed that any of the defendants’ family members were involved in the attack or knew anything about it.

“It appears that this consideration, despite its importance, has not been examined by the respondent when it issued the demolition orders. This is a flaw in its conduct,” she wrote.

On Sunday, Hamoked submitted a second request for a discussion of the legality of demolishing Palestinian terrorists’ houses before an expanded panel of justices. Supreme Court President Miriam Naor has asked for the state’s response to the request.

Last November, Naor rejected a request to allow an expanded panel of justices to reconsider that question.