Demolition of homes as collective punishment is one of the most common methods used by Israel in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the beginning of the occupation until now (also in the Gaza Strip until 2005). Israel demolished hundreds of homes, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless, as part of this policy.
The policy of home demolitions is, by definition, designed to harm innocent Palestinian people who exercised the right of resistance against the Israeli occupation, and in most cases, the person whose house was demolished for his actions does not live with the family at the time of the demolition, either for being killed by the security forces during the operation he carried out, or because he was arrested by Israel and is awaiting a long prison sentence.
The demolition of homes is an administrative procedure that is applied without trial and without the need to show evidence whatsoever, based on Article 119 of the Defense Instructions (Times of Emergency) issued by the British Mandate in 1945.
After the demolition order is delivered to the family, they can file an objection before the military commander within 48 hours, and in A decision of the High Court of Justice from 1989, the court ruled that if the objection is rejected the family must be given an opportunity to petition the High Court of Justice, before the demolition is carried out.
However, although it was the High Court of Justice that ruled that families should be able to go to it to look into the demolition order, it seems that the aforementioned ruling was only a formal and technical procedure, and that it was aimed at creating the illusion that it was keen on the right of appeal reserved for the owners of the house.
Over the years, dozens of petitions were submitted against the demolition of homes, in which primary arguments were put forward challenging the legality of this method, deliberative arguments challenging the method of its application, and arguments against its use in specific cases, but the High Court of Justice rejected these petitions overwhelmingly except for a few of them and some judges presented the opinion of the minority in the ruling.
As a result of this policy, more than 11,900 homes were demolished, and nearly 73,000 Palestinians were displaced since 1967 until the end of last September.
As this policy constitutes a collective punishment that is prohibited as a violation of the principles of international law that bind Israel, and we are not talking here of a complex or theoretical principle of international law, but of a basic moral-human rule; it is absolutely forbidden to harm innocent people who are not guilty of crime committed by others, and this is stipulated In the Geneva Convention (a protected person shall not be punished for something he did not do personally; collective punishment and all means of threat and terror are prohibited; pillage is prohibited; retaliation against protected persons and their property is prohibited).
The Israeli occupation forces claim that the house demolitions were designed to “deter” other Palestinians from carrying out operations themselves; This claim assumes that harming the relatives of a Palestinian who has carried out an operation or is suspected of carrying out an operation will deter Palestinians from carrying out operations for fear of harming their families, via the legalization of its crimes against the Palestinians and considering it within the framework of the law.
We believe in our organization that the deterrent effect of house demolitions – assuming their existence – is not enough to make the demolition of homes a moral or legal act. Intrinsically immoral and illegal. The state has never presented data proving that home demolitions deter Palestinians from carrying out operations, and no one even asked it to publish such data.
In the absence of evidence to prove the efficacy of this extremist and harmful method, there is no justification for the tool that apparently covers it from the beginning. In contrast, there is evidence to the contrary, proving that the demolition of homes, in particular, increases the motives of the Palestinians to carry out operations resisting the occupation.