Children of Jerusalem Synagogue Attacker Denied Health Insurance

State agency acted just one day after attack that killed five, before their mother’s residency permit was revoked.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Nadia Abu Jamal, widow of Ghassan Abu Jamal who carried out deadly Jerusalem synagogue attack, holds her son in their house in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber on November 26, 2014.
Nadia Abu Jamal, widow of Ghassan Abu Jamal who carried out deadly Jerusalem synagogue attack, holds her son in their house in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber on November 26, 2014.Credit: AFP
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The children of one of the perpetrators of a terror attack that killed five people in a Jerusalem synagogue two weeks ago were stripped of their government health insurance. Ghassan Abu Jamal was killed in the November 18 attack. A week ago Interior Minister Gilad Erdan announced that the residency status of Jamal’s widow, Nadia Abu Jamal, which she held by dint of their marriage, was being revoked, and that she and her three children would be deported to the Palestinian territories.

The three children, aged six, four and two, were born in Jerusalem and have lived there their entire lives. The revocation of medical coverage was discovered when Nadia Abu Jamal took one of the children to a clinic to be treated for a chronic condition and was told he could not be attended to because he had no insurance.

Hamoked, Center for the Defense of the Individual, which is representing the family, determined that the National Insurance Institute had canceled the children’s residency status in its database, removing their medical insurance as a result, on November 19 — just one day after the attack in the synagogue in Har Nof, and a full week before Erdan announced his revocation of the residency permit of Nadia Abu Jamal and her children. The assumption is therefore that the NII move was done at the personal initiative of an employee in the agency.

According to Hamoked, there are no legal grounds for denying health coverage to the children.

The advocacy organization has petitioned the High Court of Justice against the revocation of Nadia Abu Jamal’s residency permit. Nadia Abu Jamal lived in the West Bank before moving to East Jerusalem, where she was allowed to live under regulations governing family reunification.

Officials from Hamoked said the NII refused to give an explanation for its decision. “They are punishing little children for their father’s actions,” said the executive director of Hamoked, Dalia Kerstein. “This is vengeance for its own sake, with no legal basis. We as a society can’t conduct ourselves this way.”

In a statement to Haaretz, the NII said Nadia Abu Jamal’s children cannot be recognized as Israeli residents since their father is no longer alive and their mother is not a resident. The agency noted that Nadia Abu Jamal had the right to appeal the decision in labor court.

Israel has ordered the demolition of the home of the family as well as that of Ghassan’s cousin Oday Abu Jamal, his partner in the attack. The families are appealing the decision. Both homes are in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukkaber.

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