Israel's High Court Okays Home Demolition of Palestinian Who Aided Terrorists

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The aftermath of the incident on February 3, 2015, in which Border Policewoman Hadar Cohen, 19, of Or Yehuda, was killed by terrorists at Damascus Gate, the Old City of Jerusalem.
The aftermath of the incident in February, in which Border Policewoman Cohen, 19, was killed.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The High Court of Justice ruled Thursday that the demolition of the home of a Palestinian who aided the murderers of a Border Police officer last February may proceed as planned.

The High Court issued its ruling after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a demolition order for the West Bank home of Balal Abu Zeid, who confessed that he provided three terrorists with the gun they used in the murder of Hadar Cohen. He also helped them get to the scene of the attack, Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.

Abu Zeid’s father had petitioned the High Court against the demolition order, with the help of Hamoked – The Center for the Defense of the Individual and attorney Gabi Lasky.

The three Palestinian terrorists, who attacked female Border Police trainees on February 3, were later killed by police and their homes demolished in April.

The family of Abu Zeid told the High Court that the demolition of their home in Qabatiyah would harm the rights of their two children, aged 8 and 14, who also live in the house. The petition also claimed that the decision to demolish the home of a person who did not actually participate in the attack is a change in accepted policy.

In addition, the owner of a metalworking shop on the ground floor of the building petitioned the court, saying he feared his business would suffer.

Lasky also filed a request to expand the number of justices on the panel and to hold a hearing on the principle of the issue. Lasky cited previous statements by a number of Supreme Court justices against the policy that allows for the demolition of homes. However, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor denied the request.

The justices ruled that Abu Zeid played a decisive role in the attack. Justice Elyakim Rubinstein wrote that while the demolition may only serve as a means of deterrence and not punishment, it does harm the family, including minors, who are suspected of terrorist activities themselves. However, he noted, the policy of demolitions does deter future terrorists, based on an opinion submitted to the High Court by the Shin Bet security service.

A Palestinian woman inspects a house that was razed by the Israeli army, in the Qalandiya refugee camp on Nov. 16. It was home to a Palestinian who allegedly shot and killed an Israeli. Credit: AP

Rubinstein added that while he was writing his opinion, he heard about the murder of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, the 13-year-old girl murdered in her sleep in Kiryat Arba, and during the funeral of Michael Mark, who was killed in a drive-by shooting near Hebron.

“Like the rest of the countries in the world that desire to exist, Israel cannot sit idly by in the face of those who rise to annihilate us,” wrote Rubinstein. After a long and exacting examination of the issue by the security services, they found that “a certain means – which does not harm life but only property, without belittling that – deters and leads to the saving of lives.” Therefore, he added, “I am of the opinion that despite the difficulty involved, we cannot determine that this is forbidden in its own right.”

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