Study: Israeli home demolitions deter terrorism

Raffi Wineburg

(JTA) — Israeli house demolitions effectively decrease terrorist attacks, according to a new study.

The study, “Counter-Suicide-Terrorism: Evidence from House Demolitions,” to be published in the January issue of the Journal of Politics, found that Israel’s policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinian terrorists causes “an immediate, significant decrease in the number of suicide attacks.”


The study examines data on punitive house demolitions between 2000 and 2005, and precautionary demolitions — those based on the location of a house but unrelated to the identity of the house’s owner — from 2004 to 2005. The authors found 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.”

Co-authored by researchers at Northwestern University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the study runs contrary to the widely held belief that punitive house demolitions do not dissuade would-be terrorists.

In November, Israel resumed its controversial policy of demolishing the homes of terrorists when it razed the family home of Abdelrahman Al-Shaludi, who plowed his car into a Jerusalem bus stop in October. Since that time, Israel has destroyed the family homes of several other Palestinian terrorists.

The policy has drawn international criticism.