AG rules out house demolition for mentally ill terrorists
Mandelblit determines a terrorist who suffers from mental impairment 'would not have the ability to rationally consider the real possibility the home he lives in would be demolished, and consequently decide against carrying out the terror act we wish to deter him from committing.'
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has determined Israel must not demolish the house of a terrorist who is found not responsible for his actions due to mental impairment.
In a letter to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Mandelblit wrote that in cases of terrorists suffering from mental disorders, the demolition of their homes would not achieve the desired goal of deterrence.
"That person would not have the ability to rationally consider the real possibility the home he lives in would be demolished, and consequently decide against carrying out the terror act we wish to deter him from committing," the attorney general wrote.
Mandelblit also put other restrictions on the demolition of terrorists' home, basing the decision on the severity of the results of his actions. The attorney general made a distinction between a victim who was wounded and one who was killed.
He stressed that according to the Supreme Court's ruling, in case of very severe injury "the IDF's operations will be considered proportional only if the army seals the part of the house in which the attacker lived and not destroys the entire structure."
The attorney general's letter was in response to Lieberman's protest last month against the IDF's decision not to demolish the home of the terrorist who murdered Adiel Coleman at Jerusalem's Old City in March. The decision not to demolish the house was made after the family proved the terrorist was suffering from a mental illness.
"With your authorization, it was decided not to demolish the terrorist's house, based on medical documents that indicate the terrorist's mental history as well as the doubt over his mental state when committing the murder—a doubt that has never been cleared due to the death of the terrorist in the incident," Lieberman wrote to the attorney general.
"While the family of the terrorist claims he was mentally unfit, others who know him are cheering for him and glorifying his name as a shahid (martyr) in the media and on social media," the defense minister added.
"I fear potential terrorists hear these voices and see that the terrorist's house was not demolished based on medical history that will never be proven, and this will significantly undermine deterrence," he concluded.
Lieberman sent copies of his letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabat.
According to the IDF, from 2015 to 2017, 35 terrorists' homes were demolished and five others were sealed off. This year, there have been four demolitions and one house sealed off so far, with three additional house demolitions planned.
The government has determined that the demolition of a terrorist's house would be done only if he is a Palestinian who is not an Israeli citizen and claimed the life of an Israeli citizen. If the Israeli was critically wounded, the terrorist's house will not be demolished.