Israel Reinstates Policy of Demolishing Terrorists’ Homes, After 9-year Lull

House demolitions stopped in 2005 after the practice was deemed counterproductive.


Israel has reinstated its policy of demolishing the homes of terrorists nine years after it was deemed counterproductive, deciding that the procedure has since proven itself effective in the fight against terror and in preventing future attacks, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Thursday during a visit to the West Bank settlement bloc of Gush Etzion.

Security forces have used the policy on a number of occasions over the past year: This past August, the army destroyed the homes of Hussam Kawasme and Amar Abu Aisha, who according to security forces were responsible for the abduction and murder of the three Jewish youths last summer. The home of Marwan Kawasme, another individual involved in the kidnapping, was sealed. Marwan Kawasme and Abu Aysha were killed in September during the attempt to arrest them. The home of another terrorist, Ziad Awad, charged with the murder of a police officer on Passover eve this year, was also demolished.

In 2005, a military panel determined that the policy of house demolitions was not achieving its goal and that the damage caused by petitions against the demolitions was greater than the gain. The committee, appointed by Ya’alon when he was IDF chief of staff, recommended that the demolitions be stopped, saying that it led more to hatred and hostility than to deterrence against future acts of terror.

According to a senior security official, the policy of home demolitions in those years was not effective because the families subsequently received money from various entities to build what the official said was “a bigger and better house.” Things have now changed, the official said: home demolitions are now “proving themselves” and are effective.

Over the past few months, senior officials in the Shin Bet security service and the army have expressed support for the demolition of terrorists’ houses. However, a security official said that before a decision is made to demolish a terrorist’s house, whether that terrorist is a resident of East Jerusalem or the West Bank, the case will be studied in detail.

According to the official, a decision has not yet been made as to whether the houses of the terrorists who committed the attacks over the past month will be destroyed. Personnel from the Home Front Command came to the homes of the four terrorists over the past few days and took measurements and photographs ahead of demolition.