Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially submitted his request Wednesday March 2, for legal advice from Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on the subject of deporting the families of terrorists to Gaza.
“Many terror attacks are committed by ‘lone wolves,’ who often come from families that encourage terrorism,” wrote Netanyahu in his request. “I believe that use of the deportation tool will significantly decrease the amount of terror attacks against the State of Israel and its citizens.”
“I request your legal opinion regarding the possibility of removing members of families who have assisted terrorists to the Gaza Strip,” the request continued.
While the Foreign Ministry declined further comment, Professor Robbie Sabel, an international law expert at Hebrew University, explained to Tazpit Press Service (TPS) the legal grounds on which such policies could be based.
He asserted that the crucial words in Netanyahu’s letter were “members of families that have assisted terrorists.”
“I believe that it could be legal if the family were in some way involved in the crime. For example, if they knew about it or acquiesced in it. If, however, they had no knowledge of it or did not acquiesce, I think it would be considered collective punishment, and this would be against international law,” Sabel said.
He added that each case would have to be examined individually and that the evidence would have to be assessed on its own merit. However, Sabel also highlighted that a failure to demonstrate evidence of participation or assistance in an attack would amount to illegal collective punishment and a breach of the law.
“The court has to be satisfied that these people were involved in some way. While it would be a deterrent, I have no doubt that the Israeli legal system would not allow it just because they were a family member,” Sabel said.
Nevertheless, he pointed out that the subject is one of legal interpretation. “There are certainly other international lawyers who would disagree with me. This is just my legal opinion,” Sabel told TPS.
Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) has been most vocal in pushing for the deportation of family members of terrorists.
Indeed on Sunday, February 28 he announced that he would contact fellow lawmakers in an effort to change the law that prevents deportation of terrorists’ families to Gaza or Syria.
“Our job in the government is to save lives, and deportation will lower the motivation of these teenagers to carry out attacks,” said Katz at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting. “I’m sure that after deporting a few families, this lone-wolf terror wave will stop. This is our duty.”