Israeli Court Ruling on Demolition of Palestinian Homes Praised in U.S.

The United States had praise Monday for an Israeli court ruling banning the Israel Defense Force from demolishing the homes of Palestinians involved in violent activities until they have an opportunity to appeal.

Israel’s High Court of Justice instructed security forces Sunday to cease the demolition of homes in the administered territories before their owners are given the opportunity to plead their cases in court.

The only exception to this limitation, the court ruled, would be in cases of “urgent operational needs.”

“We are pleased to see any action which strengthens due process for Palestinians in the occupied territories,” State Department deputy spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday.

In New York, Sholom Comay, president of the American Jewish Committee, welcomed the Israeli court ruling. It “once again demonstrates Israel’s fundamental democratic nature, in which the principles of due process and the independence of the judiciary are maintained,” he said.

Demolishing the homes of Palestinians suspected of perpetrating security offenses has long been used by the Israeli army as a punitive measure and deterrent.

Since the Palestinian uprising began nearly 20 months ago, the Israeli army has demolished or bulldozed 230 homes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Another 102 have been sealed off with bricks and concrete, according to army statistics quoted Monday by The New York Times.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel challenged this practice in court last year, after the army blew up 14 Palestinian homes in the West Bank village of Beita. The action was a response to the killing of 15-year-old Tirza Porat, who was among a group of Jewish teen-agers to hike through the Arab village on April 6, 1988.

An army investigation later determined that Porat was killed by a bullet accidentally fired from the gun of a Jewish man who escorted the group. As a result, the army agreed to rebuild some of the homes in Beita.

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