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Counter-Suicide-Terrorism: Evidence from House Demolitions

  • Efraim Benmelech
  • Claude Berrebi
  • Esteban Klor

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 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, whereas indiscriminate violence backfires.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16493.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16493.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16493
Note: LE LS POL
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  1. Jaeger, David A & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2006. "Israel, the Palestinian Factions and the Cycle of Violence," CEPR Discussion Papers 5498, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Jaeger, David A. & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2005. "The Cycle of Violence? An Empirical Analysis of Fatalities in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict," IZA Discussion Papers 1808, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Eric D. Gould & Esteban F. Klor, 2010. "Does Terrorism Work?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1459-1510, November.
  4. Benmelech, Efraim & Berrebi, Claude & Klor, Esteban F, 2010. "Economic Conditions and the Quality of Suicide Terrorism," CEPR Discussion Papers 7995, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Efraim Benmelech & Claude Berrebi, 2007. "Human Capital and the Productivity of Suicide Bombers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 223-238, Summer.
  6. Efraim Benmelech & Claude Berrebi & Esteban F. Klor, 2010. "The Economic Cost of Harboring Terrorism," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 54(2), pages 331-353, April.
  7. Gould, Eric D. & Stecklov, Guy, 2009. "Terror and the Costs of Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 4347, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sjostrom, 2009. "The Strategy of Manipulating Conflict," Departmental Working Papers 200906, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  9. Gary S. Becker & Yona Rubinstein, 2011. "Fear and the Response to Terrorism: An Economic Analysis," CEP Discussion Papers dp1079, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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