Following Legal Scrutiny, Israel Gives Up on Deporting Families of Terrorists to Gaza

Policy, which was brought up recently by government ministers purportedly as a way to deter potential terrorists, was ruled out by state's top legal officials.

Alex Kolomoiski

Israel will not be able to deport the families of terrorists due to legal impediments, security officials who examined the possibility of deportation said on Tuesday.

About two months ago, security officials began studying the idea of deporting the families of terrorists to the Gaza Strip. According to one security source, such a step would deter potential assailants.

Originally the idea was to check whether family members who knew about a planned attack or supported the act could be expelled. “If there is a mother who knew that her son was going out to kill, and did nothing about it, then the family would know that expulsion to Gaza would be its fate,” the security source had said in the past.

But after examining the possibility, including an assessment of the legal questions by legal advisers in the security establishment and by the Justice Ministry, this option has now been ruled out.

Two officials involved in the matter confirmed to Haaretz that the outgoing attorney general Yehuda Weinstein, and current attorney general Avichai Mendelblit, came out against the idea.

The proposal has been brought up again over the past few days by government ministers, among others. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said Monday at the Jerusalem Conference, “It is inconceivable that a minor commits a stabbing, murders and tries to murder, and his family who educated him lives here protected. The family also bears responsibility.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan also spoke on the matter recently: “Unfortunately, although I tried to move this ahead, there will be no expulsion of terrorists’ families from Judea and Samaria to Gaza.” Speaking at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Erdan said he believed the step would be a deterrent, but legal advisers opposed it as unlawful.

During the second intifada the army examined expelling families of terrorists who committed suicide attacks. The attorney general at the time, Eliyakim Rubinstein, presented the opinion that relatives of attackers could be deported if information exists that they knew the bomber’s intention or sheltered him from the authorities.