Israel Mulling Expulsion of Senior Hamas Officials to Gaza

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Netanyahu and senior defense officials during a security briefing on Saturday.Credit: GPO

The Israeli government is weighing whether to expel senior Hamas officials from the West Bank to Gaza as a way of pressuring the organization following the kidnapping of three Israeli teens.

The three yeshiva students - Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, were abducted on Thursday night in the Hebron area. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Sunday that Hamas operatives are behind the kidnapping.

A senior Israeli official said the Justice Ministry had held a discussion Sunday on whether expelling Hamas officials to Gaza was legally feasible.

The assessments and discussions in the Prime Minister’s Office over the past few days have included discussions over ways of punishing Hamas aimed at pressuring the organization’s senior officials. The senior Israeli source said among the options discussed were expelling senior Hamas men from the West Bank to Gaza, demolishing the homes of Hamas operatives, and sanctions against Hamas inmates in Israeli prisoners.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, together with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and other ministry officials convened Sunday to explore whether such steps were in line with international law and would stand up to challenges in the High Court of Justice. No decisions were made Sunday, but examination of the issue is continuing. The security cabinet is expected to convene again on Monday afternoon. 

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