The Israeli Prime Minister’s spokesman Mark Regev has defended the internationally-condemned policy of punitive home demolitions as an appropriate “price to be paid”.
Regev’s remarks appeared in an article in The New York Times by the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent Jodi Rudoren, but were subsequently heavily edited.
In the original article, Rudoren reported Regev as explaining that “Jewish extremists were not treated similarly because Israeli society does not celebrate such attacks in the way that Palestinians often do.” The full quotation from Regev was as follows:
There is a culture of support within Palestinian society — these people are put up on a pedestal, they become martyrs, they become heroes, they are praised by the Palestinian leadership, their families are embraced, there are also very practical benefits for the family vis-à-vis financial support. In many ways, an action against the house is evening of the playing field. One is saying that by committing a heinous crime, in this case by murdering a baby, there will be a price to be paid.
The updated version of the piece has Regev justifying the practice on the grounds that “demolitions were a necessary deterrent to offset ‘a culture of support within Palestinian society,’ citing a report showing that the Palestinian Authority paid families of what it calls martyrs nearly $7 million in 2011.”
It is unclear why the original remarks were changed by The New York Times.
Regev’s defence of punitive demolitions, especially his talk of a “price to be paid”, echoes the rationale for, and slogans used in, so-called ‘price tag’ attacks against Palestinian communities by far-right Jewish extremists.
Israel’s policy of punitive house demolitions has been condemned by Palestinians, Israeli human rights groups, international organisations such as Amnesty International, as well as the U.S. State Department.
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