Israel's Defense Establishment Mulls Deporting Terrorists' Families to Gaza

New policy, awaiting AG approval, is one of several recent measures, among them security checks of Palestinian vehicles, aimed at redoubling efforts to combat the rising tide of terror attacks.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu, in center on left, with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and security guards during their visit Monday to see IDF forces stationed near the Etzion Bloc, outside Jerusalem.
Emil Salman

Israel's defense establishment is weighing the possibility of deporting the families of terrorists to the Gaza Strip, pending a legal decision on the matter by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

According to a defense source, this measure was suggested due to the continuing wave of terror attacks, which erupted in October. If the proposal is approved, deportation to the Strip will be imposed on family members who had advance knowledge of, or supported, the plans of relatives seeking to perpetrate attacks.

“If a mother knows that her son is planning to kill someone and does nothing about it, the family should know that its fate will be deportation to Gaza,” said the source.

During the Al-Aqsa intifada that erupted in late September 2000, the Israel Defense Forces considered deporting the family members of suicide bombers to Gaza. In his official opinion on the issue, the attorney general at the time, Elyakim Rubinstein, said that deporting relatives of the bombers was permissible if there was information showing that the relatives were somehow involved before the incidents – for example, because they knew of the impending attack or had sheltered individuals sought by the Israeli security forces. Lengthy legal proceedings preceded such deportations, and they were only carried out after being approved by the High Court of Justice.

At present, according to the same source, the defense establishment intends to continue with its policy of demolishing terrorists' homes, and to that end the IDF is now involved in mapping out these houses in advance of issuing demolition orders to their occupants.

Army forces are also continuing to arrest people around the West Bank, putting some in administrative detention – i.e., holding them indefinitely without a trial – as “a preventive step in targeting a terrorist infrastructure that is under construction.”

Meanwhile, on Monday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited the IDF's Etzion Bloc brigade, south of Jerusalem. Ya’alon noted that security forces had taken several new steps in recent days, among them – as reported in Haaretz – inspection of every Palestinian vehicle traveling on a major highway.

According to the army, the decision to initiate this policy was made last Friday, following an assessment of the situation by the defense establishment; it was implemented beginning on Sunday. From now on, soldiers will stop every vehicle carrying Palestinian plates and traveling on roads shared by Palestinians and Israelis, and check its occupants' identities.

Security forces are worried about another shooting incident such as the one which occurred last Thursday near the settlement of Alon Shvut, in which three people were killed.

Meanwhile, as part of the move to reinforce the army's presence in sensitive places, two IDF infantry battalions have also been dispatched to the Hebron area and will help to man new checkpoints set up there.

Netanyahu said during his tour that the defense establishment is aiming to revoke the work permits of terrorists' relatives. “Such a family knows when there is an extremist in its midst who is about to commit an act of terror, and such a family has no right to work in Israel,” he said.

According to the defense source, the intent is to take away permits belonging not only to immediate family members, but also those held by less closely related individuals.