Israel is currently implementing a policy of demolishing the homes of terrorists, even after they have been 'eliminated', as a deterrent to others.

Is this kind of action OK, according to halacha + hashkafa?

We can define this as a punitive measure against the family of a murderer from an enemy population.

Edit: Does it make a difference if the family a) knew and supported, passively or actively b) didn't know but supported after-the-fact c) didn't know, and condemned it?

  • Do you have any reason to suspect it should be ok according to those? – Double AA Nov 21 '14 at 17:55
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    Side note: I don't know about Halacha, but in the bible Jehovah does punish the first-born sons of entire Egypt to liberate the Hebrews. To me, this would indicate that responsibility of an act lies with the family no matter if they did or did not have any part in it. – Reut Sharabani Nov 23 '14 at 9:01
  • @DoubleAA, it could be permitted based on hefker beit din (though even if hefker, it may be bal tashchit to destroy a home). It could be permitted based on pikuach nefesh (if it is an effective deterrent). – Ze'ev wants SE to do teshuva Mar 23 '15 at 17:50

David Rosen of Emory University School of Law writes as follows on page 44.

Regarding destruction of homes of living terrorists these actions seem easy to justify under Jewish Law. Ezra 10:8 mentions confiscation of property as a criminal sanction when one disobeys lawful orders. The court, under the biblical commandment, may expropriate property in order to promote the public welfare.

He goes on to say regarding destroying homes of deceased terrorists, that Jewish Law does not punish the dead. This would make it seem impermissible, therefore what is the justification? He says since the family knew of the terrorist activity the dead terrorist was perpetrating , and often helps in various ways, and does not inform the authorities therefore it would be appropriate.

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    I myself have pulled terrorists out of their homes, and let me tell you that often the families do not know that their son is a budding terrorist. That said, house destructions is a deterrent and an effective one at that precisely because these teenagers who have nothing better to do than to join Islamic Jihad will think twice once they've seen their neighbour's house get destroyed. I am very sympathetic towards the Muslim population's plight, however we must speak to them in own their cultural way of speaking, i.e. with decisive actions on the ground. – dotancohen Nov 21 '14 at 15:08
  • @dotancohen: If the terrorist is being pulled out alive then there is no issue with destroying their home. – Gershon Gold Nov 21 '14 at 15:56
  • I used my past experience of "families do not know that their son is a budding terrorist" to counter the claim "the family knew of the terrorist activity". This is not always so. – dotancohen Nov 21 '14 at 16:16
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    Moderator note: The question asks about the halacha on a hot-button topic. This site is not a discussion forum. Please take discussion and opinions about the ethics, morals, and politics of the situation to Mi Yodeya Chat so we can keep the main site focused on the topic at hand. Thank you. – Monica Cellio Nov 21 '14 at 21:34
  • I edited the question to also include whether it makes a difference depending on the family's knowledge/support of the terrorist. (cc @dotancohen) – Scimonster Nov 22 '14 at 16:01

See this debate https://youtu.be/FYefNy1D0DY

Where it is proven that revenge is allowed and praised (excluding to Jews)

Minute 56:00.
And that Isreal is in war and in war it is permitted to kill civilians (according to Torah)

In by minute 122.
He brings sources that it is a mitzvah to kill even civilians in a time of war

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you question is caused by the modern left view that if a minority wants to hit us (i.e. through rooks that can kill) we should not shoot back, but we should try to appease them (may be not the throwers themselves but their community)

(i am not saying that we should not love a minority, it is just if they want to take something from us we need to protect ourselves) (the world can not exist only with chesed or only with gevura we need a balance)

Judaism respects its old traditions that we only need to appease someone that is stronger then us (in an ideal situation it should Only be G-D all-mighty), but if someone is planing to possibly in the future KILL us we should protect ourselves even by desecrating shabbos (i understand that desecrating shabbos is worse then killing a gentile (because we have a law that we should not save them))

shulchan aruch 329.6

6 If non-Jews attack a Jewish town and have come for the sake of /the residents’/ possessions one may not desecrate the Shabbos because of this. /However,/ if they have come with the object of /taking Jewish/ life, and even if it is not clear /why they have come/, one must go out with weapons and desecrate the Shabbos /in order/ to /resist/ them. If /the attack is/ on a city that is close to the border /,then,/ even if they have come only for the sake of /pillaging/ straw or stubble one must desecrate the Shabbos /in order/ to /resist/ them. Gloss: Even if they have not yet come but intend to come. (…)

the shulchan aruch harav 329.6 end it seam that even if they will not kill us but they only take our land

we need to listen to an expert shulchan aruch harav 328.10

even if we do not want to we need to be forced shulchan aruch harav 328.11

so in these cases it seams that the halocho will be that we need to get professional military (just as by medical) advice (similar to @dotancohen's comment) what needs to be done to save jewith life (or land according to the rav 329.6) from any possible threat, and we need to force ourselves even if we do not want to) and not make the mistakes that israel constantly made in having politicians decide military tactics.

ps Rabbi Meir Kahane had some good theories on how to protect jewish life

from history demolition of terrorists' homes seams not to be enough

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    FWIW, i'm not leftist. I'm just asking for the sources for this action. (Could use them to combat leftists. :)) – Scimonster Nov 23 '14 at 16:30
  • I don't see anything in this post that directly addresses the tactic in question. – Isaac Moses Nov 25 '14 at 14:32
  • @IsaacMoses how did i not answer "Is this kind of action OK, according to halacha + hashkafa?" i think i answered that almost anything is OK to save jewish live (land) – hazoriz Nov 25 '14 at 14:35
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    @hazoriz Your citations indicate that we are obligated to respond with military force to defend Jewish life and property. They do not seem to say anything about the menu of tactics or targets authorized for that military force. If there is something in one of the cited sources that does so but isn't currently quoted in this post, I encourage you to edit it in. – Isaac Moses Nov 25 '14 at 14:47
  • You seem to assert that it's forbidden to save a non-Jew's life on Shabbat, but as a matter of practical Halacha, it is not forbidden, but required. – Isaac Moses Nov 25 '14 at 14:56

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