Is the destruction of terrorists’ homes effective?

Dozens of terrorists’ houses were destroyed by security forces in the last year in Eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. Is this one of the reasons for the decrease in terror attacks?
Destroyed house Photo credit: Channel 2 News

A deafening explosion or the sound of bulldozers, these are the last noises heard after what started as a terror attack, murder, and ends in the destruction of the terrorist’s house- crime and punishment.

“The war is for home,” said Yaron Bloom, a former senior level official in the Shin Bet. “If we won’t know how to fight using tools that the Arabs understand that are effective in the Arab’s mind and not in our minds, we will fail in the war.”

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“The benefit is marginal and the cost is very high,” claims Colonel Yoni Fogel. “It is proven that house destruction does not create deterrence. If there was deterrence the First Intifada would not break.”

Since the beginning of the “Knife Intifada”, the IDF has demolished 26 terrorist homes in the West Bank, not including Eastern Jerusalem, which brings the number to almost 40. Most terrorists did not see the destruction and were killed during their terror attack. Although they knew that their families could end up with nothing they still chose to take the risk.

House destruction has been used in the fight against terror since 1967, but the Second Intifada in 2000 increased the numbers dramatically. No less than 666 terrorist’s homes were destroyed in a period of 5 years. However in 2005, a committee headed by Udi Shani recommended to stop the policy due to doubts regarding its legality in accordance with international law.

The question of cost versus benefit will continue to challenge Israel. It testifies to the strength of the country’s democracy, which is not afraid to ask questions and examine itself.


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