Netanyahu Seeks Attorney General's Authorization to Deport Terrorists' Families From West Bank to Gaza

The prime minister says the move would 'drastically reduce terrorist acts' against Israelis.

Israeli security forces monitor the area where a Palestinian man tried to stab Israeli soldiers before being shot dead at a checkpoint near Ramallah, in the West Bank, on February 26, 2016.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the attorney general to approve deporting relatives of terrorists from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.

“I believe that this will dramatically reduce terrorist activities against Israel, its citizens and its residents,” Netanyahu wrote Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Wednesday.

Netanyahu wrote that terrorists with a “lone wolf profile” have carried out many of the attacks in recent months. He added that the assailants sometimes come from families who encourage and abet their activities. “I request your legal opinion to allow the procedure of transferring families who assist terror to the Gaza Strip,” remarked Netanyahu.

Netanyahu sent the letter to Mandelblit although he knows well the attorney general’s position. A few days ago, Army Radio reported that during cabinet discussions Mandelblit clarified that deporting terrorists’ families to Gaza or Syria as Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Yisrael Katz proposed during one of the meetings contravenes Israeli law as well as international law.

Netanyahu said during a meeting of the Likud leadership in the Knesset on Monday that he and many cabinet ministers support deporting families of terrorists to Gaza. However, legal officials have yet to approve such a move. He added that he is interested in continuing to look into this issue with legal experts because he believes that deportation to Gaza will increase deterrence of potential terrorists.

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office noted that Netanyahu wants to formally receive Mandelblit's position in writing, even though the attorney general had stated his position in the past during security cabinet meetings. However, political sources say that the move by Netanyahu was designed to paint Netanyahu as someone who was acting against the recent wave of attacks, but being stopped by the legal advisors.