JERUSALEM (Nov. 17)
The High Court of Justice has cleared the way for the army to destroy the house of the suicide terrorist who carried out last month’s Tel Aviv bus bombing in which a total of 23 people were killed.
The court rejected the petition of the family of the terrorist, Salah Assawi of the West Bank town of Kalkilya, to stop the demolition.
In its 21-page decision, handed down Thursday, the court said the army had the authority to issue the order to destroy the house. It also upheld the security forces’ view that destroying the homes of Palestinian assailants would be a deterrent to terrorism.
The army had argued that a new breed of terrorism had evolved, in which dying in the course of an attack was no longer a deterrent, but in fact an honor, leading to “a place in heaven.”
A different kind of deterrent was thus necessary, the army maintained.
The majority also ruled that the court did not have the right to intervene in an order made by a commander in the field, who had the right to exercise his judgment in deciding to destroy the home.
On the petitioner’s point that the home of Baruch Goldstein, the Kiryat Arba resident who carried out the Hebron massacre last February, was not destroyed, the judges said Goldstein was a single individual acting in an extraordinary event.
The judges accepted the army’s view that the Tel Aviv bombing, by contrast, was carried out within the framework of a Muslim fundamentalist group, Hamas, whose aim was to carry out attacks against Israelis.
The lone dissenter, Justice Michael Heshin, said that only the bomber’s room should be destroyed, and not the entire house. Heshin said he found it difficult to agree with the decision by the military to destroy the entire house, in which the bomber’s parents lived, as well as his siblings and their families.
The lawyer who represented the family, Eliahu Avram of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said he was not surprised by the decision, but called it collective punishment of innocent civilians.
“The decision has not changed our view that it is not right to destroy a house when the demolition only affects innocent people who had no link to the attack,” Avram told Israel Radio.
The army had no comment as to when the demolition would take place. The original order was issued several days after the Oct. 19 attack. The Nazzal family had already moved its belongings out of the house.
A separate appeal from the families of the terrorists who kidnapped and murdered Israeli soldier Nachshon Waxman last month is still pending before the high court. The army is seeking to destroy their homes, as well.
In reaction to this week’s decision, Likud Knesset member Tzachi Hanegbi said the order was not enough to deter suicide bombers.
He has presented a bill in the Knesset that would allow the army to expel the families of terrorists from the territories.