High Court Approves Demolition of Confessed Terrorist’s Home

An IDF soldier investigating the scene where Esther Horgan, Hy”d, was found dead in a forest in the Shomron, Dec. 21, 2020. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

The High Court on Wednesday approved the demolition of the home of the Palestinian who admitted murdering 52-year-old Esther Horgan, Hy”d, in a December 2020 terror attack.

The body of Horgan, a mother of six from Tal Menashe, was found a day after she went missing during a walk in the woods near her home.

Muhammad Mruh Kabha, 40, from the Palestinian village of Tura al-Gharbiya near Jenin, was arrested four days later. The Shin Bet said he admitted killing Horgan and later re-enacted her murder at the scene.

Kabha told the Shin Bet that he had managed to sneak into Israeli territory through an opening in the security fence, with the intent to carry out a terrorist attack against Israelis.

Kabha’s family had petitioned the High Court against the plan to demolish the upper two floors of the three-story home, claiming that the confessed terrorist’s wife and three children lived on the second floor.

The family said that they did not know of his plans to carry out a terror attack and could not have prevented him from doing so, and argued that the demolition would be an act of revenge and punishment therefore illegal. Furthermore, the family told the court, collective punishment was a violation of international law.

They also claimed that home demolitions were not a deterrent but instead actually fostered resentment that led to further attacks.

The three-judge panel, however, ruled two to one that there was no grounds to intervene in the IDF plan to partially raze the home.

“The demolition of terrorist homes is a sensitive issue,” wrote Judge Yitzchak Amit as he rejected the family’s petition along with Judge Daphne Barak-Erez.

“Demolishing a terrorist’s house is not a means of punishment, and there is no revenge involved as a response to the attack. The demolition of a terrorist’s house is used solely as a deterrent and not as a means of punishment,” Amit wrote.

Writing the minority opposition to the decision, Judge Anat Baron said she believed that the second floor of the house, where the wife and three children lived, should not be demolished, but only the third floor that was used by him.

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