Likud Ministers Back Bill to Expel Terrorists' Families: 'They Cultivate a Murderer'

Shin Bet head, IDF chief of staff and attorney general all oppose the bill, which was approved by a ministerial committee Sunday

An Israeli soldier is seen in the demolished house of the assailant of the Barkan factory attack, Shuwaykah, West Bank, December, 2018.
IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Ministers of the ruling Likud party said on Tuesday that evicting the families of terrorists from their homes is a crucial and efficient move, even in the absence of any proof that they abetted terrorism. 

This position contrasts that of the attorney general, the head of the Shin Bet security service and the IDF chief of staff, who voiced their objection to the bill before it was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

Tourism Minister Yavin Levin told Army Radio on Tuesday morning that the issue at stake is political, and an attempt is being made to turn a political argument into a legal issue. 

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"Israel has no constitution and what may or may not be done is a matter of legislation in the Knesset, not behind closed doors. These people support a terror attack and called on others to follow suit, and people acting this way are full partners in crime," Levin said. 

Conversely, Science Minister Ofir Akunis said that in any case, the step in question would be a constitutional one. Following the argument by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit that the bill would badly harm the right to freedom and property, Akunis said on Kan B  radio that the argument that some of the family members are not involved is absurd.

"There is no such thing as 'not involved,'" Akunis said. "That is simply ridiculous. A family cultivates a murderer, the murderer grew up in a hothouse. This is not collective punishment – you don’t raze the whole village, you demolish the house."

Akunis said he holds the officers who oppose the eviction bill in the highest regard, but claimed there are examples that refute their positions. For instance, he noted the family of Hamas official Omar Barghouti, whose son Salah had been suspected of involvement in a terror attack near the settlement of Ofra. Salah Barghouti was killed by counter-terrorism forces last week.

"The Barghouti family is a family of terrorists," Akunis said. "These are facts. This family is cultivating generations of murderers and should be expelled."

Regarding the terror attack on December 10 in which seven people were wounded, including Shira Ish-Ran, whose child was born prematurely and died three days later, Akunis said that anybody who shoots a pregnant woman in her eighth month "isn't a human being, but a two-legged animal." He also said that intervention by the court impairs deterrence, a position expressed by other right-wing ministers during a demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Office on Sunday. 

On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted in favor of the bill, which would facilitate the expulsion of terrorists' families from their homes to other areas of the West Bank. According to the bill, within seven days from the date of an incident, the IDF central command chief will be able to expel the families of assailants who perpetrate or try to perpetrate a terror attack. 

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, however, expressed his concern on Monday about the bill, which is sponsored by Moti Yogev of the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party, because it would badly impair the constitutional rights of the family members slated for expulsion, such as the right to freedom and the right to property. He might not be able to defend the bill in court, Mendelblit said, adding that the bill could also hurt Israel on the international law front. 

Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman called the law unimplementable and warned that it would boomerang and if anything, hurt Israel's security. Israeli forces can hardly go from house to house, entering the kasbah every day, or Hebron or Nablus, to see who lives where and whether a family returned home, he said. Implementing the law will just exacerbate tensions and could have a negative effect on the ground, Argaman said. People present at the meeting said the discussion was turbulent and Argaman and the ministers had heated exchanges.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, said that expelling the families of terrorists is an efficient tool and added at a Likud meeting that the bill's benefits outweigh the harm. While Netanyahu said he anticipates legal challenges to the bill, he has no doubt as to its efficacy