Yuli Edelstein
Yuli EdelsteinFlash 90

Members of the Foreign and Defense Committee and other members of the Knesset, along with various right-wing organizations, have been demanding for the past six months from the chairman of the committee, Yuli Edelstein, to hold a discussion on the destruction of terrorists' homes, but the committee did not discuss it.

At the end of January, committee member Deputy Speaker of the Knesset MK Nissim Vaturi (Likud) appealed to Edelstein in order to convene an urgent discussion on the issue of the destruction of the homes of terrorists who injured Israeli civilians, but his request was not met.

"Your honor, this is a prize for terrorism," Vaturi claimed about six months ago. "Every terrorist who comes to carry out an attack should know that his house will be destroyed without any difference whether he 'succeeded' in his mission or 'failed' in it."

In 2018 a discussion was held in the committee regarding the policy of destroying homes of terrorists who "only" wound victims, and it was unequivocally agreed that this policy should be changed and that the committee would hold continuous follow-up discussions on the matter. Since then, nothing has happened and there has been no policy change.

In the same way, former committee member MK Almog Cohen (Otzma Yehudit) addressed a similar letter to committee chairman Edelstein at the beginning of January and wrote: "Even though Regulation 119 of the Defense Regulations permits the destruction of terrorists' houses without any condition on the results of the attack and even though it is clear that a terrorist who wants to attack must know that his house will be destroyed in any situation and even though the ombudsman gave permission to seal the houses of terrorists who only wounded victims, nothing else happened. The time has come, five years after a comprehensive discussion on the matter, that it be definitively decided to destroy the homes of terrorists, including those who, to our delight, were unsuccessful in their mission to murder Jews."

At the beginning of June, thirteen members of the Knesset appealed to Edelstein again, demanding to hold an urgent discussion on the occasion of the increasing wave of terrorism and the delay in demolishing the homes of terrorists, as well as the failure to demolish the homes of aides and the homes of terrorists who only wounded victims.

In their letter, the MKs wrote: "The demolition of terrorists' homes is one of the most important deterrent tools in the hands of the State of Israel. Over the years, much evidence has been collected regarding the effectiveness of the demolition of the terrorists' homes, both from press reports that surveyed the Palestinian public opinion on this matter and from academic studies, these also point to the unequivocal conclusion - the demolition of terrorists' homes deters potential terrorists and sometimes also helps in their arrest in advance with help from their relatives. However, this tool is not used as required and does not fulfill its deterrent potential, which is why this discussion is required."

The MKs emphasize that "while during the days of the second intifada most of the houses were destroyed from the ground up, today the scope of the demolition has been reduced - either due to a limited demand from the beginning on behalf of the security system or due to the order of the court that, in many cases, the demolition is limited to a room or a floor, and many times the demolition even turns into sealing or internal destruction only. In these situations in particular, it must be known that the terrorist's house that is internally or partially destroyed will be rebuilt, in view of the fact that the Palestinian Authority finances reconstruction and minimizes the deterrent effect of the demolition."

Despite all the MKs' requests, the committee was not convened to discuss the issue. The Knesset members wonder if they should behave like MK Eliyahu Ravivo, who threatened to withdraw from the coalition if Prime Minister Netanyahu did not demand from Edelstein to hold a confidential discussion on the ISA law.

Shai Glick, CEO of the right-wing nonprofit B'Tsalmo, commented: "This is an unfortunate and delusional decision that is a reward for terrorism and inviting the next murder." Unfortunately, instead of promoting and pushing the destruction of terrorist homes at record speed and the destruction of the homes of accomplices and the homes of terrorists who "only" wounded people, the committee is delaying the fight against terrorism. Destroying terrorists' houses is a life-saving tool, as determined by all the security forces."

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee stated to Israel National News: "Answers to the requests of committee members to hold a debate will be given to the Knesset members who ask - as is customary."

The office of the Chairman of the Foreign and Defense Committee, MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud), had no comment.