Israel punishes family members for acts of relatives

The family apartment of Maher al-Hashlamoun, a Palestinian jailed for killing an Israeli settler in 2014, in the West Bank city of Hebron, after Israeli forces punitively destroyed it in October 2015. Israel is escalating the use of such collective punishment, following Sunday’s truck ramming attack in a settlement near Jerusalem that killed four of its soldiers.

Muhesen Amren APA images

After issuing orders to demolish their home and rounding them up in detention centers, Israel now plans to revoke the Jerusalem residency of the relatives of the man who ran a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers at a settlement near Jerusalem on Sunday, killing four and injuring more than a dozen others.

The Palestinian man, identified as Fadi Ahmad Hamdan al-Qunbar, 28, was shot dead at the scene.

The sweeping order, issued by interior minister Aryeh Deri on Tuesday, is a striking expansion of Israel’s tools of collective punishment against an alleged attacker’s family.

It would strip at least a dozen people of their right to live in their home city of Jerusalem.

The Israeli human rights group HaMoked, which is representing the family, reported that more individuals were notified on 11 January that their residency would be revoked.

“Let this be known to all who are plotting, planning or considering carrying out an attack, that their families will pay a heavy price for their actions and the consequences will be severe and far-reaching,” Deri said.

“This is a decision that signals a new era against terrorism and terrorists who use their status to carry out attacks against citizens,” Deri added. The move is supported by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967. It later annexed the city in violation of international law, a move not recognized by any country.

Israel treats East Jerusalem’s indigenous Palestinian population as if they were mere “permanent residents” whose ability to stay in the city is contingent on Israeli permission.

In its December resolution, the UN Security Council condemned all of Israel’s measures “aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.”

It confirmed that such measures, including “the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians,” are “in violation of international humanitarian law” and previous resolutions.

As the occupying power, Israel is also bound by the Fourth Geneva Convention, which outlaws “collective penalties” and states that no person “may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed.”

But since there have been no effective international measures to hold Israel accountable, it has continued to use collective punishment with impunity for decades.

Punishing children

Like other forms of collective punishment Israel uses, particularly the punitive demolition of family homes, these measures are reserved for Palestinians; Israel does not use collective punishment against the families of Jews who carry out attacks.

Some of al-Qunbar’s relatives were summoned Tuesday morning to Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority, where they received a letter that said the family is “suspected of having connections to ISIS,” and members are considered a security risk “as long as they remain in Israel,” according to the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.

Israeli police raided the homes of other relatives, delivering revocation orders.

Al-Qunbar’s mother’s status is also being revoked supposedly on the basis that she made a false claim 30 years ago when she first received her residency status upon marrying her husband, a Jerusalemite.

Among those who now face becoming stateless are two children in the al-Qunbar family aged 11 and 17.

Other voices in the Israeli government have called on the family to be expelled to Syria or Gaza.

“Disloyalty” to an occupation

While thousands of Palestinians in Jerusalem have had their residency revoked under various pretexts, the first instance of revocation for “lack of loyalty” didn’t occur until 2006, when Israel stripped three elected Palestinian lawmakers and the Palestinian Authority’s minister for Jerusalem affairs of their status.

Human rights groups appealed this move to Israel’s high court, where a decision is still pending.

But a lack of judicial ruling has not stopped occupation authorities from advancing this new avenue of expelling Palestinians from Jerusalem.

Last January, four men were stripped of their residency before they were convicted of anything.

Three of the men were charged with throwing rocks at passing traffic, allegedly leading to a fatal accident of one driver. The fourth man was accused of committing an attack on a bus in which three Israelis were killed and several others wounded.

Israel said the revocations were for lack of loyalty to the state. HaMoked is appealing this decision, arguing there is no allegiance implied in Palestinians’ permanent residency status.

Also last January, a bill was introducted in Israel’s parliament that would allow the cancellation of permanent residency on grounds of “disloyalty” to Israel.

At least 13 Palestinians have since had their residency revoked over the last year on the basis of breaching loyalty to the state, according to documentation by Community Action Center at Al-Quds University.

When the Israeli government first made rumblings of introducing the new grounds for revoking residency, Israeli analyst Zvi Bar’el predicted in Haaretz, “That’s how it works when rights are trampled. You start small, get the people used to it, and then you can move on to the mass phase.”

Revoking citizenship

Meanwhile, human and civil rights group Adalah, based in Haifa in the north of present-day Israel, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) are petitioning an Israeli court to reject Deri’s attempts to revoke the citizenship of Alaa Zayoud, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempted murder.

Adalah and ACRI are also demanding Israel annul the 2008 amendment to its Citizenship Law that allows revoking citizenship for “breach of loyalty.” To date it has exclusively been used against Palestinian citizens.

“A minister who chooses to employ such moves only against Arab citizens, in an effort to serve his own narrow political interests, drags the court into his discriminatory struggle against Arab citizens and, by doing so, stains the court,” Adalah said.

The Israeli high court refused to revoke the citizenship of Israeli Jewish citizen Yigal Amir, who assassinated then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

In its decision to uphold Amir’s citizenship the court stated, “society has expressed its reservation about this brutal murder, but that is no reason to revoke Amir’s citizenship, not because of the killer’s dignity, but because of the dignity of that right [to citizenship].”

Last February, the government attempted to expand its ability to revoke the citizenship of someone in absentia.




Vicious zionists. Their precious criminals get the gold standard package when they kill Palestinians.
Palestinians get the apartheid treatment.

Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.