Our attorney-general, Avichai Mandelblit, would be wise to review the history of Palestine during the years of the British Mandate.
There he will discover methods of individual and collective punishments inflicted on terrorists and anarchists used by British authorities to quell revolts and to discourage future terrorist activity.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and members of his Cabinet and the Likud party have proposed the demolition of the homes of parents of accused terrorists.
The raison d’etre is that seeing parents homeless, sorting through the rubble of their demolished homes for scraps of memory, may diminish their children from rock throwing, fire bombing, car ramming, stabbings and suicide attacks.
When these young terrorists are warned a priori of the consequences that their parents will suffer as a result of their activities, they will think twice and then twice more before planning attacks on our military and civilians.
The British used this tactic against followers of the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini who stirred up violence and terror. The mukhtar of each village was informed by the British of the consequences to the Arab residents of their villages. And when, in many cases, homes were blown up, violence emanating from that village suddenly ceased.
Collective punishment was, and is, an effective method of control.
Some of our military leaders propose a “neutralization” of young terrorists rather than outright killing them. It seems to me that “neutralizing” them will not work. They have a cause and they are willing to become a Shaheed for the cause. Becoming a martyr is their highest priority.
Mandelblit believes that demolitions violate both Israeli and international law. One solution is to change or to amend Israeli law which would permit such demolitions when necessary. As for international law, when a nation is at war it has the right to strike its enemies with full force.
The demolition of homes does not happen when families are in the homes. No lives are endangered. The loss is only to property.
Reading the history of the Mandate years is a revelation. Collective punishment did work and demolitions, when necessary, were successful.
Mandelblit should study carefully the British records of that period and learn from it. Young terrorists whose parents become homeless may then cease to be terrorists.
Hopefully, Netanyahu’s proposal will overcome Mandelblit’s objection. Try it. There is nothing to lose…
…except for a few Arab homes.