Liberman Favors Expanding Terrorist Home Demolition Policy

The remains of the home of a terrorist that was demolished by Israeli troops in the Kalandiya refugee camp, near Ramallah. (Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has ordered members of his ministry’s legal staff to examine the possibility of legislating new rules that would allow the IDF to demolish the homes of terrorists who caused injuries to their victims. Currently, the law allows the army to demolish homes only of terrorists who actions resulted in the death of victims.

In a statement, Liberman said that “the fight against terror requires us to act in a determined manner and adopt various tactics, including using force, against those who seek to harm us, and against those in whose cause they act. Demolitions of homes has proven to be an effective tool in the fight against terrorism, especially in warning and warding off those who plan attacks. As part of this struggle I believe we should be demolishing the homes of terrorists who cause serious injuries to their victims. As far as I am concerned there is no difference between an attack that results in a death, or one that results in severe injury. In both cases the homes of the terrorists must be demolished.”

Legal observers said it was not clear if the proposed rule would pass legal muster, given the restrictions the High Court has placed on home demolitions. Under current practice, the IDF demolishes terrorists’ homes – partially, with only the area where the terrorist himself lived included in the demolition order. That is what happened to the home of the family of Omar Abd al-Jalil, who murdered the members of the Salomon family last July. As a result, the family is suing, demanding that the IDF completely demolish the home.

Al-Jalil occupied the first floor of the house, and as his actions resulted in the murder of three Israelis – Yosef Salomon, his daughter Chaya, and Elad Salomon, Hy”d – the IDF ordered the demolition of that floor, which took place in August. The second floor, where the rest of the family lived, remains intact. The lawsuit says that the IDF’s actions have not been sufficient, and that demolishing just one level of a house, enabling use of the rest of the structure, was “strange,” and displayed Israeli weakness. The law, according to the petition, empowers the IDF to demolish the entire home, and there is sufficient evidence that the family was aware of, and abetted the actions of Omar Abd al-Jalil – and should be punished accordingly. “If the murdered cannot respond to the crime committed against them, we the living can, and our actions can discourage cruel and destructive terrorism. The demolition of the home will bring at least some comfort, in that it will discourage others from acting in the same way,” the petition says.

An IDF investigation yielded an indictment for members of the al-Jalil family, for acting as accessories to the terror attack, having foreknowledge of it, and assisting the terrorist to carry it out. Two brothers and an uncle of al-Jalil were sentenced to eight months in prison, while his father was sentenced to two months in prison. Al-Jalil’s mother, who was convicted for incitement, got a one-month prison term and a fine.

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