Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Terrorist house demolitions: not a deterrent and not a punishment

This is an update of a post from 23 November 2014, that is topical again now that Israel has started demolishing terrorists' houses again. 

There are many actions that the Israeli government could and should take to both deter and punish terrorists and their families (in my earlier posting I referred to Caroline Glick's suggestions in this superb article). I am in favour of extremely harsh measures to counter the current tsunami of attacks against Jews by Arab antisemites in Israel. But demolishing terrorists' houses is not one of them. If any houses are to be demolished the one at the very top of the list should be the $13million palace that Mahmoud Abbas built for himself with US and UK taxpayers' money. After all, it was Abbas's UN speech last Wednesday that was a declaration of war against the Jews and that triggered the slaughter that started the very next day.  Destroying the houses of the PA and Hamas leaders - not their indoctrinated foot soldiers - might actually have a deterrent effect. Indeed it was only when Israel started demolishing the entire apartment blocks where the Hamas leaders lived (in the 2014 conflict) that the latter begged for a ceasefire.

As explained in the above table, there are multiple reasons why demolishing the terrorists' houses not only provides an incentive to other terrorists but is also costly in many ways to Israel. For Israelis there is not even a fleeting satisfactory feeling of revenge, because we know that the terrorists' family will actually be massively rewarded with a far nicer and bigger house, and lifetime financial rewards beyond their wildest dreams. They do not even lose any of their possessions (they are given weeks of warning). Basically the 'punishment' is equivalent to winning the lottery for them.


Unknown said...

Excellent blog yet again! Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

The reward logic does not seem to be working in Gaza! Appeasment does not work. The current terror activities will continue to a tipping point shortly. The Palestians will lose out sadly, thanks to their leaders and hate.

fairbrit said...

THANK YOU, Edgar, for another measured and well researched piece.

This situation of house demolitions highlights how Israel is stuck between a rock and a hard place. To do nothing weakens the Israeli public's sense of security; to do something brings the wrath of the international community.

I have just returned from a 10 day holiday in Tel Aviv. No other country in the world lives in survival mode, functions in a state of physical and political attacks as the Jewish state. It is nothing short of a miracle that Israel not only survies but surpasses all expectations to bring forth a thriving robust democratic country that out performs in all areas of medical innovations and hi tec.

I have no answers to this escalation of violence against Jews, both inside and outside of Israel, save to say this is a continuation of the antisemitism that has always threatened the existence of the Jewish race.

Confronting antisemitism and Israel hatred said...

Fairbrit: Thanks for the comment - totally agree about the miracle of how Israel functions in the face of unbelievable adversity. But I think there is a lot more that can be done security wise rather than house demolitions. And in any case if they are going to do the demolitions then they have to be consistent (demolish the houses of every terrorist - the current bizare policy is they only demolish those of terrorists that manage to kill people) and fast (must be done within a couple of days - the ones demolished at the moment date back to offenses a year ago).