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Israeli military issues home demolition order to a woman and her three children (all U.S. citizens) as punishment for allegations against her husband

Since 1967, Israel has demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes as a punitive measure. The military relies on Regulation 119 of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of the British Mandate, which grants broad discretionary powers to demolish homes. (These demolitions are in addition to the even more wide-scale demolitions of Palestinian homes in military operations, or on planning grounds where Israeli authorities largely refuse to grant building permits.)

Following every Palestinian act of violence in which an Israeli is killed, the military issues a demolition order against the home of the family of the perpetrator. The punitive demolition does not replace criminal proceedings but is an addition to them. Israeli authorities justify punitive home demolitions as a necessary deterrent to violence. So this is an explicit policy of collective punishment: willfully harming innocent people in the hope that this will deter future violence. Regardless of the effectiveness of this policy (and the military itself has suggested that it may actually be counter-productive), punitive home demolitions are immoral and a violation of international law. Given Israel’s extensive use of these demolitions as a policy, punitive demolitions also constitute a war crime.

Muntasir Shalabi was arrested on suspicion of carrying out a shooting attack in the West Bank on May 2, in which an Israeli student was killed and two others injured. This week, the Israeli military issued a demolition order against the Shalabi’s two-story house in Turmusaya in the West Bank.

Mrs. Shalabi is not suspected of any involvement in the attack, yet she now faces the loss of her home. Both Mrs. Shalabi and her three minor children who also live in the house are U.S. citizens.

The Shalabis, together with HaMoked, are now petitioning Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ) against the demolition. To date, the Court has refused to rule on the legality of punitive home demolitions as a policy, only addressing the specifics of each individual case.

Over the past seven years, HaMoked has represented 75 families contesting punitive home demolitions. In only eight cases did the High Court accept the petition and halt the demolition. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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