The house that was destroyed four times and will be rebuilt again.
The IDF recently destroyed the house of a terrorist in the Ramallah area for the second time this year. This house has now been destroyed and rebuilt four times since 1994 in a very costly cat-and-mouse game between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Ever since 1993, the Palestinian Authority is a self-ruling governing autonomy over parts of the West Bank. Today most large urban areas in the West Bank are ruled by the PA when it comes to health, education, infrastructure, taxation, etc.
But Israeli military still steps in sometimes if they need to operate against terrorist cells. Sometimes this includes demolishing homes of terrorists, in the controversial practice that is supposed to be a deterrent to terrorism. The critics of the policy claims that it is a form of collective punishment. The Palestinian Authority is trying to cancel out the deterrent effect of the policy by using its own money, mostly received in grants from foreign aid and governments, to rebuild terrorist homes.
The latest and most obvious case of this is the home of 32-year old Islam Yusuf Abu Hamid in the al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah. He killed the Israeli soldier Ronen Lubarsky in May 2018 by throwing a 40-pound marble block on him from a rooftop during a military raid against a terrorist cell. He was arrested, convicted, and now serves a lifetime prison term in Israel.
The 4-story house of his family was demolished by the IDF on December 14, 2018. A December 2018 report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information center, says that a Fatah official confirmed on December 25, 2018 that they will fund the rebuilding of the home. The official stated that he had been appointed directly by Mahmoud Abbas to rebuild the family’s home in the same location. This is despite the IDF order not to rebuild it.
In October 2019 the IDF demolished this house again, following a complaint filed by the Regavim organization. Regavim is a non-profit organization that pursues legal action against illegal constructions undertaken by Palestinians or Bedouins. It was founded by Israeli far-right politician Bezalel Smotrich who currently serves as minister of transportation in the interim government.
A senior PA official has stated on twitter that the home will be rebuilt again, supposedly using PA funds once more. It really seems like this has sparked some sort of eternal cat-and-mouse game between Israel and the PA.
It becomes even more absurd when we look back. The plot on which this house was standing held an earlier construction that was demolished in 2004 following a terror attack by Abu-Hamid which put him in Israeli prison from 2004 to 2009, and before that in 1994 when Abu-Hamid’s brother killed Israeli shin-bet operative Noam Cohen. It is not clear whether the PA funded the rebuilding of the houses in the two previous occasions.
The question is whether the controversial policy of demolishing terrorist homes really does work as a deterrent, or if it only inspires the terrorists to see the same house rebuilt again and again. The western governments who send aid to the PA will probably not be able to protest against this misuse of PA funds if they are at the same time also criticizing Israel’s demolishing policy. In that way, the western aid that is supposed to help alleviate poverty and unemployment in the PA, instead goes to inspire terrorists, and there is nothing the western powers can do about it.
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. – Psalm 127:1