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Israel’s home demolitions after terrorist attacks, explained



(JTA) – Less than a hour after a terror attack in eastern Jerusalem on Friday killed three people, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a succinct message: Destroy the Palestinian attacker’s home.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu has decided to take immediate action to seal and demolish the home of the terrorist,” said the statement from Netanyahu’s office. 

Home demolition orders have almost become a matter of course following Palestinian attacks. They don’t usually make headlines, nor do they tend to spark public outcry. For decades, Israel has used the tactic as a routine instrument of punishment, claiming that the effect of tearing down the homes of terrorists deters future attacks.

But critics question that claim, and say that home demolitions constitute collective punishment that violates international law. At a moment of deep political strife in Israel, the home demolition practice, like many others related to security, generates little political opposition. And while the Israeli Supreme Court, whose power Israel’s right-wing government hopes to limit, can delay home demolitions, it almost always ultimately permits them to go forward.

Here’s how the practice of Israeli home demolition began, how it’s viewed in Israel and abroad, and how it may be changing under Israel’s new government. 

Why does Israel destroy the homes of terrorists?

Israel began demolishing homes of Palestinian attackers after it captured the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, along with other territories, in the 1967 Six Day War. Since then, according to a 2019 assessment by the Israel Democracy Institute, Israel has demolished some 2,000 homes due to terrorism. The demolitions have taken place in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, not within Israel’s internationally recognized borders. 

Israel claims that demolishing the homes of terrorists acts as a deterrent, a rationale cited last month in a bill introduced by lawmaker Eliahu Revivo, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party who also wants to deter attacks by deporting the families of terrorists. 

“The national security establishment and the Israeli army have conducted research over the years into dozens of suicide attackers, and it emerged that the one deterrent for suicide attackers is what the consequences for their families will be after the attack,” the text of the bill said.

Home demolitions were largely suspended in 2005 after the Israel Defense Forces found that the practice had no discernible deterrent effect. The demolitions were sporadically reinstituted a few years later and fully brought back by Netanyahu in November 2014 during a wave of Palestinian attacks.

A 2010 research paper by political scientists at Northwestern University and Hebrew University suggested that home demolition works as a deterrent. The authors of the study based their findings on an examination of home demolitions in the five years prior to the army’s 2005 suspension, a period that coincided with the second intifada. 

“We show that punitive house demolitions (those targeting Palestinian suicide terrorists and terror operatives) cause an immediate, significant decrease in the number of suicide attacks,” the paper said. “The effect dissipates over time and by geographic distance.”

This year, Netanyahu’s new government, the most right-wing in Israeli history, has indicated it will accelerate and expand the demolition of the homes of terrorists. It recently ordered the closing-off of an apartment belonging to the family of a 13-year-old who shot and wounded two Israelis near Jerusalem’s Old City. The move was unusual because Israel had previously reserved home demolition for attackers who killed people.

Does Israel demolish the homes of Jewish terrorists?

No. The Palestinian family of a boy murdered by a Jewish terrorist sued to have his killer’s home destroyed. The High Court in 2017 rejected the lawsuit, saying too much time had passed since the 2014 murder. The government argued that deterrence was not necessary in the case of Jewish terrorism, because, in the words of Judge Neal Hendel, Jewish terrorists are “a minority of a minority of a minority.” The Israeli government counted a total of 16 Jewish attacks of terrorism in 2015, according to the Jerusalem Post. Israeli Arab politicians, including Knesset member Ahmed Tibi, had called on the government to demolish the Jewish terrorist’s house as a matter of fair treatment.

Is demolishing terrorists’ homes legal?

Yes, according to Israel. No, according to experts in international law. 

Israel bases its argument on a regulation from 1945, when Britain controlled what is now Israel, that was carried over into Israeli law when the state was established in 1948. It is known as “Defense regulation (emergency) 1945, regulation 119.”

The regulation is broadly written, allowing a “A Military Commander” to destroy the home of “anyone who offended, or attempted an offense, or assisted offenders or abetted offenders after the fact,” as determined by a military court.

Multiple international law experts say that home demolition is illegal under international law because it is a form of collective punishment, which is banned by the Geneva Conventions. Israel has long argued that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to its presence in territories it has captured, because the land in question was not the internationally recognized territory of any state prior to 1967. 

The Biden administration also considers home demolitions to be collective punishment. “We attach a good deal of priority to this, knowing that the home of an entire family shouldn’t be demolished for the action of one individual,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in 2021.

Israeli human rights groups, including B’tselem and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, agree with international scholars that the practice violates international law. B’tselem cites both the Fourth Geneva Convention and a verse in Deuteronomy that reads, “Parents shall not be put to death for children, nor children be put to death for parents: they shall each be put to death only for their own crime.”

Who owns the land once a home is demolished?

Under the 1945 regulation, military authorities maintain control of the land, and it reverts to the original owners — if they are present — once military authorities leave.

How long does it take for a home demolition to take place? What happens to the family?

Generally, the military consults with Israel’s intelligence services before ordering a home demolition.In the case of high-profile attacks, however, the order may come down immediately, as it did on Friday. Families have 48 hours to appeal a demolition to the military commander or another relevant authority. 

However, Israel’s Supreme Court has reserved the right to review demolition orders. This may delay demolition for months or years, but B’Tselem reports that in the majority of cases, the court ultimately upholds the demolition. In one notable case in 2018, the court stopped the demolition after the family presented evidence showing that the assailant suffered from a mental illness. 

Homes may be demolished by bulldozers. Apartments or rooms are generally filled with cement, rendering them unlivable. Families sometimes split up among relatives, at least in the near term, according to a United Nations report. 

According to the Jerusalem Post, the army commission that recommended ending the practice in 2005 reported that families of the terrorists often rebuild their homes with compensation funds from the Palestinian Authority and other sources. The Palestinian Authority pays monthly stipends to the families of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel or killed while committing violent attacks. Israel and its advocates decry the payments as an incentive for terrorism.

How many home demolitions have taken place?  Are homes demolished for reasons other than deterrence?

According to the Israel Democracy Institute, more than 50 homes “have been either fully or partially demolished” between 2014 and 2019 as a deterrent to terrorism. Hamoked, an Israeli human rights group, placed the total since 2014 at 75, according to Haaretz.

Israel has demolished a far greater number of Palestinian buildings due to lack of a building permit. Palestinian groups and Israeli human rights organizations argue that Palestinians face discrimination in obtaining such permits. Israel also has a policy of demolishing Palestinian dwellings for being built in a closed military zone. 

The same academic paper that concluded demolishing the homes of suicide attackers was an effective deterrent also found that home demolitions for other reasons — including as a preventative measure — spurred an increase in terror attacks.

The post Israel’s home demolitions after terrorist attacks, explained appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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