During the last few days, the media has reported that Israel's Minister of Internal Security has directed the police to demolish the family home of the Palestinian who perpetrated the attack on the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. According to the media, the Minister of Defense supports the intention to demolish the home.
B'Tselem wrote to Attorney General Mazuz demanding that he prevent the demolition.
In its letter, B'Tselem pointed out that the demolition of houses as punishment is a grave breach of international humanitarian law. The declared objective of this policy is to harm innocent persons - relatives of suspected perpetrators, who are not accused of any criminal wrongdoing themselves. The demolition of houses is a clear case of collective punishment, which violates the principle that a person is not to be punished for the acts of another. Collective punishment is therefore illegal regardless of its effectiveness.
Regarding effectiveness, a committee appointed by former Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon found that the house-demolition policy did more harm than good to Israel's security. The committee's finding undermines the claim that Israel has used for many years, that the policy deters potential terrorists.
From October 2001 to the end of January 2005, Israel demolished 667 Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories as a means of punishment, leaving more than 4,200 persons homeless. Half of the demolished houses were adjacent to the family homes of suspected perpetrators of terror attacks.
In February 2005, the abovementioned committee recommended that the policy be stopped.. The same month, then-Defense Minister Mofaz adopted the recommendation.