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Counter-Suicide-Terrorism: Evidence from House Demolitions

Author

Listed:
  • Efraim Benmelech
  • Claude Berrebi
  • Esteban Klor

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Efraim Benmelech & Claude Berrebi & Esteban Klor, 2010. "Counter-Suicide-Terrorism: Evidence from House Demolitions," NBER Working Papers 16493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16493
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16493.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. David A. Jaeger & M. Daniele Paserman, 2008. "The Cycle of Violence? An Empirical Analysis of Fatalities in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1591-1604, September.
    3. Eric D. Gould & Esteban F. Klor, 2010. "Does Terrorism Work?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1459-1510.
    4. 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.
    5. Gould, Eric D. & Stecklov, Guy, 2009. "Terror and the costs of crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(11-12), pages 1175-1188, December.
    6. Gary S. Becker & Yona Rubinstein, 2011. "Fear and the Response to Terrorism: An Economic Analysis," CEP Discussion Papers dp1079, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    7. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sjostrom, 2012. "The Strategy of Manipulating Conflict," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2897-2922, October.
    8. David A. Jaeger & M. Daniele Paserman, 2006. "Israel, the Palestinian Factions, and the Cycle of Violence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 45-49, May.
    9. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jaeger, David A. & Klor, Esteban F. & Miaari, Sami H. & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2012. "The struggle for Palestinian hearts and minds: Violence and public opinion in the Second Intifada," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 354-368.
    2. Miaari, Sami & Zussman, Asaf & Zussman, Noam, 2014. "Employment restrictions and political violence in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 24-44.
    3. Caruso Raul & Klor Esteban F., 2012. "Political Economy Studies on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Introduction," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(2), pages 1-10, August.
    4. Shortland, Anja & Vothknecht, Marc, 2011. "Combating “maritime terrorism” off the coast of Somalia," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(S1), pages 133-151.
    5. Karen Pittel & Dirk T.G. Rübbelke, 2012. "Decision processes of a suicide bomber—the economics and psychology of attacking and defecting," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(3), pages 251-272, June.
    6. Eric van Um & Daniela Pisoiu, 2011. "Effective Counterterrorism: What Have We Learned so Far?," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 55, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Nakao, Keisuke, 2015. "Indirect Policing: Its Theory, Mechanism, and Application to Combatting Elusive Perpetrators," MPRA Paper 67218, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Koch Michael & Tkach Benjamin, 2012. "Deterring or Mobilizing? The Influence of Government Partisanship and Force on the Frequency, Lethality and Suicide Attacks of Terror Events," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(2), pages 1-29, August.
    9. Francesco Amodio & Michele Di Maio, "undated". "Making Do with What You Have: Conflict, Firm Performance and Input Misallocation in Palestine," Development Working Papers 379, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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