Counter-Suicide-Terrorism: Evidence from House Demolitions
48 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2012 Last revised: 13 Nov 2012
Date Written: November 13, 2012
This paper examines whether house demolitions are an effective counterterrorism tactic against suicide terrorism. We link original longitudinal micro-level data on houses demolished by the Israeli Defense Forces with data on the universe of suicide attacks against Israeli targets. By exploiting spatial and time variation in house demolitions and suicide terror attacks during the second Palestinian uprising, 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 effect dissipates over time and by geographic distance. In contrast, we observe that Palestinian fatalities (regardless of whether or not they were killed in a targeted killing operation) do not have a consistent effect on suicide terror attacks, while curfews and precautionary house demolitions (demolitions justified by the location of the house but not related to the identity or any action of the house’s owner) cause a significant increase in the number of suicide terror attacks. The results are consistent with the view that selective violence is an effective tool to combat terrorist groups and may have contributed to bring an end to the Second Palestinian uprising. On the contrary, indiscriminate violence backfires.
Keywords: Counterterrorism, House Demolitions, Suicide Terrorists
JEL Classification: D74
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation