Israel Lifts Restrictions on Terrorists’ Hometown After Three Weeks

Rummanah's mayor says the ban on residents entering Israel was collective punishment; 206 relatives of attackers remain blocked from Israel

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Security forces at the scene of the attack in Elad this month.
Security forces at the scene of the attack in Elad this month.Credit: Moti Milrod

The Israeli Military lifted the ban on residents of Rummanah entering Israel on Friday, three weeks after two men from of the Palestinian town in the West Bank murdered three Israelis in the city of Elad.

As of now, 206 relatives of the assailants remain barred from entering Israel. The three-week closure was unusually long, and the military has never before imposed such sanctions on the residents of an entire community for so long a time. The mayor of Rummanah, Hassan Sabikhat, said the ban amounted to collective punishment, as 80 percent of the men in the town of some 4,000 people work in Israel.

As’ad Al-Rafa’ani, 19, and Sabhi Abu Shakir, 20, murdered three people in Elad and wounded another four last month. They were captured after three days of hiding out in a forest near Elad, along with the ax authorities say they used in their killing spree.

On the evening of Memorial Day, May 3, Israel imposed a temporary ban on entry to Israel by Palestinians in the West Bank; after the attack in Elad on Independence Day, May 5, this was extended through May 8. It was then decided to continue the restrictions on working in Israel only for the residents of Rummanah.

A defense official told Haaretz that the decision was made in order to prevent copycat attacks.

The revoking of work permits is part of a broader policy that was adopted by Israel's security cabinet after a terrorist attack in the ultra-orthodox city of Bnei Brak in March. According to the new policy, the circle of those considered close to attackers was expanded when imposing restrictions in order to increase deterrence among the Palestinians.

Before the recent decision, entry and work permits were revoked only for immediate relatives, but now permits are being taken away from relative such as cousins and grandparents, as well as from neighbors and close friends – even if there is no information that they knew in advance of the intention to carry out an attack.

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