Israel Widens Scope to Deny Entry to Relatives of Terror Suspects

Anti-occupation group discovers new category which seems to 'sanction' Palestinians with 'family connection' to suspected assailants.

Palestinian laborers at the Tarqumiya crossing.
Emil Salman

Israel’s Civil Administration has created a new category for denying entry permits from the West Bank to Palestinians who are related to a terror suspect.

The discovery was made by an activist in the group Machsom Watch who helps with appeals by Palestinians whose exit has been denied. Soldiers in the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories explicitly mentioned the new category “refused entry by the Operations Directorate, sanction” to activists in the organization.

There’s nothing new about refusing entry permits to Palestinians whose relatives have been involved in terror attacks or shot dead by the Israeli army without having been involved in an attack. For years these decisions have been the province of the Shin Bet security service, and these individuals fell into the category of “refused entry for security reasons.”

The Shin Bet told Haaretz its question should be put to the Civil Administration, something that helps suggest that the Shin Bet is not involved in assigning the new category.

It also seems, judging from cases that Machsom Watch has heard about, that “family connection” is interpreted very broadly and can include people with the same clan name but no personal acquaintance with the suspect or assailant.

Most of the cases that have come to the organization’s attention involve people from the Jerusalem and Ramallah areas.

A COGAT spokeswoman declined to say when the new category of refusal was created, how many people have thus far been assigned to it and whether the punishment (“sanction”) has proved effective.

“In accordance with a decision by the political leadership and in consultation with defense agencies, in light of the terror wave, it was decided to freeze entry permits to all relatives of the assailants,” the spokeswoman said.