When Israel demolishes Palestinian homes illegally built in east Jerusalem, and in Area C of the West Bank, Western reporters are out in force to report on those terrible Israelis who for no apparent reason are tearing down those homes as despairing innocent Palestinians look on, helpless to stop the destruction. No mention is made in their reports of why the Israelis have decided to demolish a particular property. But there are two distinct reasons. One is to tear down buildings that were constructed without a permit, or that violate building safety codes and regulations. These safety violations, of course, endanger the lives of the Palestinian inhabitants as well as those of neighbors. This is administrative demolition, and it also is carried out against buildings owned by Jews, where they have built without a permit, or violated building safety codes and regulations.
The second kind of demolition is dissuasive. When the IDF demolishes the family homes of terrorists, it does so to discourage terrorism by others who, even if they are themselves willing to die as “martyrs,” do not want their families as a consequence to lose their homes. The reporters are deeply skeptical of Israel’s reason for such demolitions, claimg there is no evidence that such demolitions discourage terror attacks. They are wrong. A joint study between Northwestern and Hebrew U in 2014 found that home demolitions result in a “significant decrease” in attacks, and two later studies confirmed the result.
The reporters never mention either that academic study, or similar later studies that have concluded that demolition of terrorists’ homes does indeed cause the incidence of terror attacks to noticeably decrease for months after the demolition. Reporters from The BBC, The Guardian, The New York Times, and many other news outlets simply refuse to examine the evidence; they instead cover these house demolitions as inexplicable acts of wanton cruelty by the Israelis. But when far greater numbers of Arab homes are demolished – not the several dozen that Israel demolishes each year, but 20,000 Arab homes, virtually overnight – there is no coverage in the Western media. More on this selective indignation can be found here: “Demolitions of thousands of Arab family homes aren’t reported on @CNN or the @NYTimes,” Elder of Ziyon, June 13, 2023:
From The New Arab, May 26:
Residents in the Egyptian town of Al-Arish have expressed anger over security forces demolishing their homes to make way for a new port in the Suez Canal.
In videos shared by activists online, men, women and children can be seen visibly distressed while protesting against the destruction of their homes in the city’s Al-Mina district.
The Sinai Foundation for Human Rights NGO said that Egyptian security forces launched a campaign to demolish homes in Arish in March this year despite residents’ protests, according to Al-Jazeera Mubasher.
The group’s director, Ahmed Salem, also stated that at least 20,000 people are impacted by the ongoing home demolitions.
Many residents who gave up their homes had complained that they were not adequately compensated despite promises, while others were at risk of homelessness due to insufficient funds to rent other properties, the NGO added.
Egypt is a despotism, and the powerless residents of Al-Arish can only hope for foreign news agencies to report on, and take up, their desperate cries for help in stopping the government’s destruction of their town. Some homeowners in Al-Arish claim the government did not adequately compensate them for the taking of their property by eminent domain; some who were renters have not been given enough money by the government to rent other properties elsewhere, and are in danger of homelessness. But this important story cannot be found anywhere in the mainstream Western media that, however, covers house demolitions by Israel in great detail.
Additionally, many handed over ownership of their homes due to pressure from security forces, while a number of homes were destroyed before compensation was even offered, leaving many homeless….
Some homeowners in Al-Arish were pressured into transferring title of their homes to the government by the Egyptian security services; some homes were destroyed even before their owners were offered compensation, thus leaving them homeless. And some discovered that even when the compensation was paid, it was far below what their houses were worth. And they had no recourse; the Egyptian government does not negotiate, but “makes them an offer they cannot refuse.”
The mainstream media has a deep and abiding interest in Israel’s demolitions of Palestinian houses, but gives short shrift to Israel’s explanations for both kinds of demolition — those that are undertaken to ensure that building permits are obtained before structures are put up, and that building codes and regulations are not violated; and those which are meant to, and do, dissuade terrorist attacks.
The same interest is not shown when the Egyptian government engages in the massive demolition of homes. And yet there is reason to believe that these demolitions are often done not for security reasons, but only to enrich the well-connected developers – some with close ties to government officials — who stand to gain when lower and middle-class homeowners are forced out, so that those developers can build high-end shopping malls and entertainment centers on the land now vacated. Is that a legitimate reason for the Egyptian government to force those homeowners out? Why don’t Western journalists cover these demolitions as well? Why such an obsessive interest in Israel’s demolitions, and none at all in those carried out, for far less legitimate reasons, by Egypt?