Study: Israeli Home Demolitions Deter Terrorists

A joint study between Northwestern and Hebrew U finds that home demolitions result in 'significant decrease' in attacks.

Cynthia Blank,

Demolition
Demolition
IDF Spokesman

Israel's policy of demolishing terrorists' homes effectively decreases terrorist attacks, a new study found. 

The study, “Counter-Suicide-Terrorism: Evidence from House Demolitions,” was co-authored by researchers at Northwestern University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It will be published in the January issue of the Journal of Politics.

According to the study, demolishing the homes of Palestinian terrorists results in “an immediate, significant decrease in the number of suicide attacks.

The study documents data of punitive house demolitions between 2000 and 2005, and precautionary demolitions from 2004 to 2005. Precautionary demolitions are those which are based on the location of a house but unrelated to the identity of the house’s owner.  

Authors saw that punitive house demolitions during that time led to “fewer suicide attacks in the month following,” while precautionary demolitions caused “a significant increase in the number of suicide attacks.”

The determination that demolitions are effective punishment runs contrary to claim often made by opponents to the measure, who argue that punitive house demolitions do not dissuade would-be terrorists. 

Israel partially resumed the controversial practice of demolishing terrorists' homes in November, when it destroyed the room of Abdelrahman Shaludi, who plowed his car into a Jerusalem light rail stop in October. He killed a young woman and a three-month-old baby in that attack. 

In early November, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the demolition of the family homes of six terrorists who carried out attacks against Jewish Israelis. 

Following the Shaludi demolition, though, the families of the other terrorists appealed against Netanyahu's decision through the Israeli right groups Hamoked. The court then issued a temporary restraining order against the government. 

While Israel has received plenty of international criticism for the policy, the IDF stressed its efficacy and is now back-up by this new study.

"Demolition of terrorists’ homes is a clear message to all those who seek to harm Israeli citizens and security forces, that terrorism and harming innocent people has a heavy price that they will pay if they choose to continue these activities."


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