Letter to The Age/SMH: Home demolitions

Submitted for publication on December 2, 2014.


In Australia, a major purpose for imposing lengthy jail terms is to deter would-be criminals. But what if the would-be perpetrator intended to die in their attack, in the belief that they would go straight to paradise? What if they murdered in the knowledge they would become a hero in their community, they may even have streets named after them, and their family would be exceedingly generously compensated for their loss?

This is the dilemma confronting Israel once again with the recent wave of brutal terror attacks, and the reason it has recommenced demolishing the family houses of the terrorists responsible.

Ruth Pollard (“Home demolitions wreak vengeance“, November 29), claims these contravene international law against collective punishment, but Israel argues that as a deterrent measure, they can not properly be characterised as punishment, and also that they are a military necessity to save lives and, as such, are legal. They are regarded as legal by Israel’s Supreme Court.

Pollard makes out that there is a double standard when similar crimes are commited by Israelis. She cites the Israeli response to incidents where a Palestinian girl was killed in a hit and run by an Israeli settler, and the barbaric kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian boy by Israelis. However, this is not true. Israeli police concluded the hit and run was an accident, and the Israeli murder suspects are in prison awaiting trial.

Jamie Hyams
Senior Policy Analyst
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council