Israel's Interior Minister Moves to Revoke Citizenship of Arab Terror Suspect

Ala’a Ziwad injured four, two seriously, in a combined car-ramming and stabbing in October.

Ala’a Ziwad at his arraignment in a Haifa court in November 2015.
Rami Shllush

Interior Minister Arye Dery said on Sunday he was taking steps to revoke the citizenship of a man from Umm al-Fahm who has been charged in connection to a terror attack in Israel in October. Ala’a Ziwad confessed to deliberately ramming his car into two soldiers and then stabbing two additional people, at the Gan Shmuel intersection near Hadera, before he was subdued.

Two soldiers, a 19-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man, were admitted to hospital in serious and moderate condition, respectively, after Ziwad hit them. In addition, a 14-year-old girl was hospitalized in moderate condition with stab wounds, while a 45-year-old man was treated for minor stab wounds.

Writing on his official Facebook page, Dery said he had filed a request with the Haifa District Court to begin the process of revoking the citizenship of Ziwad, whose mother — but not his father — is an Israeli citizen. Dery said the father’s residency permit would not be renewed.

“Revoking citizenship is a serious and rare step but we must use a firm hand against anyone who harms the security of the state and its inhabitants,” he wrote.

A 2008 amendment to the Citizenship Law allows the interior minister to revoke the citizenship of persons involved in terror activities, among other circumstances.

The move must be approved by a court and by the attorney general. Dery wrote that he had obtained the consent of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit for the request.

Ziwad has been charged with four counts of attempted murder and of the possession of a knife for racist purposes. Prosecutors say he has confessed to the carrying out the attacks.

A few days after the incident, then-Interior Minister Silvan Shalom began the process of revoking Ziwad’s citizenship, along with that of another suspected terrorist.

In response, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah — The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said they would oppose the request in court.

“Revocation of citizenship is an extreme act with very serious harm to human rights because it leaves a person without any rights that citizenship protects. Criminal proceedings is the way for a society to express its reservations from serious acts, and the issue of citizenship should not be involved in that,” the two organizations said in a joint statement.