IDF panel recommends ending policy of house demolitions

A military committee appointed by the IDF Chief of Staff has recommended stopping the policy of punitive house demolitions.

This is more than three years after the start of the second intifada, and after hundreds of house demolitions – all representing collective punishment, all contrary to the Geneva Convention, and all known to be ineffective. More than a year ago an internal army study summing up the first 1,000 days of the conflict, said that not only was there no proof of the effectiveness of house demolitions as a deterrent, but that they even appeared to be counter-productive. And still it took another year for the IDF to “examine the policy”.

Note also that in 2004, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, 184 houses were demolished for punitive reasons, while 1609 were demolished either for permit violations or for “military purposes”, which generally means to clear space for settlements, bypass roads or army outposts. The announced change applies only to punitive demolitions.

Full story, from Ha’aretz
Commentary from Jewish Voice for Peace
ICAHD commentary – “a small but welcome step”

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3 Responses to IDF panel recommends ending policy of house demolitions

  1. eIDF says:

    This is a political decision, not a military one. House demolitions have always been effective, as anyone who has driven on the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem past Ramallah knows. At the beginning of the Intifada there used to be snipers in Palestinian villages overlooking the road firing on Israeli cars that drove by. Then the IDF started demolishing homes that were used for this terrorism and the sniping stopped.

    The house demolition policy as controversial as it is, has undoubtedly saved lifes. There have been numerous reports of parents who stopped their children from comitting suicide simply to keep their houses, I would advise you to search the web for interviews with Mr. Sarasara, Hazem’s father who stated in numerous interviews that had his son known his suicide would leave them homeless he wouldn’t have done it. There are also numerous cases of fathers and mothers turning in their sons to the PA police before they had a chance to commit terror because they were afraid of losing homes that their “great grandfather built”.

    What you don’t understand is that while terrorism may not be liked by the Palestinian population (they would prefer to have a nice, modern army instead), it is (or I should say, was, before the Intifada was defeated by IDF) widely accepted as an effective political strategy. Oslo did not happen until after the first Intifada. Barak giving 98% of the West Bank to the PA did not happen until after numerous acts of Palestinian terrorism and threats.

    House demolitions may be politically obtuse these days, but there is no question that they are effective.

  2. seymour gordon says:

    In response to eIDF, the question of house demolitions goes much further than reprisals against sucide bomber’s famailies. Houses are also demolished to change the demographics of an area by calling the Palestinian homes ‘illegal’, to make way for Judaization. The policy is also plainly discriminatory. Racist Jewish bomb plotters from West Bank settlements such as those convicted of attempting to blow up the Mosque of Omar in 1986 with Arabs inside worshipping, and those convicted of attempting to blow up an Arab school for girls in East Jerusalem in 2002, have not had their homes or the settlements they live in demolished as a ‘deterrent’. Why not? You be the judge.

    Regarding Barak’s supposed offer of ‘98%’ of the west bank, this is plainly laughable! The writer only has to go to the map of the West Bank on the B’tselem website to see the reality.
    How can any Palestinian leader accept a ‘generous’ offer that leaves vast numbers of settlements in the territory linked by private roads that Palestinians would have no access to? Naomi Chasen, deputy leader of the Knesset, on a visit to Glasgow, described this offer as simply the creation of a number of ‘Palestans’ similar to the bantustans in apartheid South Africa. The B’tselem map, compiled with great care and investigation over a long period by an intrepid Israeli investigator is plainly damning evidence of Israeli encroachemnt and determination to hold power indefinately.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well, eIDF seems to know better than the real IDF in this case – the Ha’aretz story quotes the Major General in charge of the enquiry as saying that “no effective deterrence was proven except in a few cases, and that the deterrence, limited if at all, paled in comparison to the hatred and hostility toward Israel that the demolitions provoked among the Palestinians”. Sounds like a good military argument to me. But this is pretty strange ground anyway – the house demolitions are collective punishment, absolutely contrary to the Geneva Conventions. Since when did we start discussing war crimes on the basis of their military effectiveness?

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