Friday, March 06, 2009

'House Demolitions Deter Terror'

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz 'House Demolitions Deter Terror'

The Land of Israel Legal Forum appealed to government officials on Thursday to accelerate the legal process for demolition of terrorists' homes in the capital. The measure is a priority for its deterrent effect, the Forum claims. In a letter to outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, the Legal Forum noted that the bulldozer rampage on Thursday was the fourth terrorist attack in Jerusalem in the past 12 months. It was also the third in which a bulldozer was turned into a deadly weapon. All of the recent terror attacks in the capital were perpetrated by Muslim Arab residents of the city, most of whom held Israeli ID cards.

Nachi Eyal, chairman of the Legal Forum, said that Israelis feel the security agencies are helpless to act against suicide bombers and other terrorists who live in eastern Jerusalem. "The pace at which the defense and legal systems operate is a perversion of justice and diminishes Israel's deterrent abilities," Eyal wrote. "The latest terrorist attack carried out today could have been avoided if there had been a threat that his home would be demolished, and it was clear to him that he was harming his family and all that is dear to him."

Israeli authorities have not taken steps to demolish the homes of the terrorists who carried out the previous bulldozer attacks in the capital. However, a section of the family home of Alaa Abu Dheim, who murdered eight yeshiva students in a shooting attack in Jerusalem one year ago, was sealed with concrete in January 2009.

In his letter, Eyal pointed out that there is no legal obstacle preventing the demolition of the homes of terrorists. Citing a 2003 decision, Sharbati v. the Home Front Commander (HCJ 10467/03), he reminded Barak and Mazuz that the High Court of Justice allowed the use of similar measures against Arabs from eastern Jerusalem. In the Sharbati case, the Arab petitioners used their Israeli residency status to facilitate terrorist attacks.

There is no reason why the decision regarding the more recent attackers should be different, Eyal explained. "To the contrary, the fate of all terrorists should be equal so that they will know ahead of time the price they and their families will pay after the fact for their actions."

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