Israeli Court Bans Deportation of Jerusalem Woman Whose Son Stabbed Border Policeman

Appellate tribunal overturns Interior Ministry decision to annul residency permit of woman whose son wounded an officer in a 2015 stabbing attack

File photo: Israel Border Police on patrol in East Jerusalem, May 18, 2018.
Mahmoud Illean/AP

eA Justice Ministry tribunal ruled last week that a Palestinian woman from the West Bank who lives in Jerusalem cannot have her residency permit revoked, despite the fact that her son was involved in a stabbing attack two years ago.

In its decision, the appellate tribunal, which deals with residency and immigration issues, overturned a previous decision by the Interior Ministry, and declared that annulment of the woman's permit cannot be used as a means of punishment.

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The woman’s son, Mustafa Khatib, carried a stabbing attack on a Border Police officer in October 12, 2015 outside Jerusalem's Old City. Khatib, who was 17 at the time, was shot and killed during the incident. The police officer was lightly wounded. 

The review tribunal, headed by Judge Elad Azar, explained that the woman's residency should not be rescinded because she does not represent a security risk herself and did not know of her son’s intentions to carry out the attack.

Originally, the woman's husband filed a request for and received the permit in 1999 for reasons of “family reunification.” However, in March 2016, Elinor Golan of the residency permits and foreign citizens department of the Interior Ministry's Population, Immigration and Border Authority informed her that the permit had been revoked. In practical terms, this meant that she would be deported from Jerusalem, where she has resided with her family for over 20 years. Golan said the decision was based on security concerns.

The appellate tribunal ordered the Interior Ministry to renew the woman’s residency permit within 45 days and to pay 7,000 shekels ($1,960) to cover her court costs. The government has 45 days to appeal the tribunal’s decision to the Jerusalem District Court.

Azar ruled that the ministry's decision to revoke her residency permit was made without proper authority, and noted that it was not claimed that she encouraged her son to carry out the attack or knew of his intentions. The judge added that the legal opinion submitted by Israeli security authorities concerning the involvement in violent attacks by the children of Israeli parents, one of whom is a resident of the West Bank or Gaza Strip, was too general and did not apply specifically to this case.

Azar accepted the claims of the client's lawyers, from Hamoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, that the decision to deport the mother was in fact a decision to punish her entire family. The judge also wrote that the Citizenship and Entry to Israel Law does not allow the Interior Minister to revoke the status granted to a resident of the West Bank as a matter of deterrence. 

For its part, the Interior Ministry claimed that the woman’s residency permit should not be renewed because she bears “parental responsibility” and because she expressed doubt that her son had actually carried out the stabbing attack. In response, Azar wrote that the ministry had relied on laws from different countries in the case. 

“However," he wrote, "the appellants live in the State of Israel and the decision to grant a residency permit to the appellant and to revoke it are based on the laws of the State of Israel, and only on them. It is for a good reason that the respondent has gone as far as Arizona and California in the United States as an example of legislation that is not found in a normative source of such legislation in Israel.” 

Azar also ruled that the parents have continued to meet all the conditions of the woman’s permanent residency permit: They continue to have a normal familial relationship and Jerusalem is the center of their life. In such a case, it is irrelevant whether the woman expressed remorse for her son’s actions or accepted the fact that he carried out a stabbing attack.

“I did not find that the interior minister was authorized to take into account considerations related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the feelings of apathy or even satisfaction from any terrorist attack,” Azar noted, adding that those are irrelevant issues.   

According to Hamoked, Azar clearly stated that any attempt to take away her permit – which must be renewed every year – constitutes an attempt impose inappropriate collective punishment, since it would affect her whole family. 

Israel has taken a number of steps toward collective punishment of Palestinian families whose relatives have carried out violent attacks or are suspected of involvement in such attacks. In addition to the punishment of home demolitions, residents of East Jerusalem are often penalized by means of revocation of social benefits and as well as residency permits.