Punitive house demolition as retribution because prison is not enough

Israel knows that it may not demolish a house unless there is a overriding military necessity and that absent that necessity, it is considered collective punishment. But that never stops Israel as it routinely and blatantly flouts international law without consequence. That will not last as long as it hopes. The constant conflation between a criminal act and terrorism serves only to desensitise not only Israelis but the world – we no longer take Israel seriously when it cries about terrorists, and that is as it should be, since it excels at propagandistic histrionics and hyperbole.

The Jerusalem Post reports on 1 July, 2014 that the Israeli High Court has ruled that a family home may be demolished in retribution for the murder of a police officer, justifying it by stating that the family knew the father (accused, not convicted) had a weapon and practised with it. The court acknowledged that the wife and son did not participate in any unlawful activities or commit any wrongdoing, but the multi-family residence will be demolished anyway to punish them and the rest of the extended family.

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.

The three-justice panel of Deputy Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, Justice Yoram Danziger, and Justice Uri Shoham had heard a petition by the Hamoked human rights group on behalf of 12 members of Awad’s immediate and extended family to block the demolition of the multi-residence structure they live in.

B’Tselem responded blasting the ruling as “not surprising” since the court “has been giving a green light for 35 years” to such demolitions.

It added that the court now does not even as fundamental questions about the practice, confining itself to technical aspects of the demolitions. [sic]

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 Geneva Conventions in order to achieve deterrence or whether they are an illegal form of collective punishment under Article 33.

Most countries do not view deterrent demolitions as valid, accepting only demolitions relating to a real-time battlefield situation.

The wife “knew about the hiding of the weapon and about Awad’s firing practice, facts which weaken the ethical strength” of the Awad family’s claims that they are being unjustifiably and collectively punished.

The court rejected Hamoked’s argument that the house should not be demolished at least until Awad has been convicted of murdering Mizrahi (at present he has only been indicted.)

It stated that domestic law regarding house demolitions allows them to go forward as long as there is sufficient “administrative evidence” (a lower standard than criminal) suggesting that an attacker lived in the house in question.

The court also disregarded Hamoked’s argument that neither Awad nor his immediate family owned the structure (Awad’s brother owns it), stating that prior precedent on house demolitions only requires a connection between the attacker and the residence being demolished, not actual ownership.

If ever there was evidence of the vindictive, petty nature of Jews in Israel, this is it. It is not fit to be considered a civilised country, much less a “liberal Western-style democracy” – the evidence against it mounts by the day.

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