Israel's High Court Approves Demolition of Sarona Attackers' Homes
In turning down petitions by assailants' families almost completely, court gives green light to destroying all of one home, upper floors of other.
Israel's High Court of Justice on Sunday denied petitions by the families of the two terrorists who committed the shooting attack at Tel Aviv's Sarona Market last month, thus allowing the demolition of the families’ homes to go ahead.
Justice Esther Hayut, Uri Shoham and Uzi Vogelman unanimously approved the demolition, except for the lower story of one of the attackers’ homes.
The two attackers, Khaled Mahamra and Mahmoud Mahamra, are cousins who lived in Yatta and Khirbet Reka near Hebron. They killed four Israelis and wounded 41 in the attack.
Khaled’s family, represented by Hamoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual, argued in the 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.
Mahmoud’s family, also represented by Hamoked, argued that the lower floors of their home should not be destroyed, since Mahmoud 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 Mahmoud’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 Mahmoud’s brother was privy to Mahmoud’s intent to carry out the attack, as well as information about the father’s access in recent years to weapons.
Justice Shoham wrote in his opinion that the court should totally reject the petition by Khaled’s family and partially accept Mahmoud’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, as did Vogelman, although he added a personal objection in principle to demolishing the homes 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 response reached by my colleagues.”