Bennett demands coalition back law to move terrorists’ families from their homes

Jewish Home party leader says he expects government support for legislation to forcibly relocate relatives to other areas of West Bank

Education Minister Naftali Bennett attends a ceremony in the northern city of Safed, on December 11, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett attends a ceremony in the northern city of Safed, on December 11, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced Thursday that he will demand coalition support for a bill calling to forcibly relocate the families of Palestinian terrorists from their homes to other areas of the West Bank.

Bennett, who leads the nationalist Jewish Home party, tweeted his plans in the wake of a spate of terror attacks this week which killed two IDF soldiers and a baby born prematurely after his mother was shot, and injured nine other Israelis.

The powerful Ministerial Committee for Legislation will convene on Sunday and Bennett said he will put the bill to a vote with the expectation of full support from the government.

“Thus far, under the pressure from legal officials, the Prime Minister has asked us to postpone the vote,” he wrote. “I have now decided to bring the matter to a vote. I expect the full backing of the prime minister and the other ministers for this law.”

Israeli security forces and forensic experts inspect the scene of a terror shooting outside the Givat Asaf settlement outpost, northeast of the West Bank city of Ramallah, on December 13, 2018. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

According to the proposed legislation by Bennett and his fellow party member MK Moti Yogev, within a week of an attack or attempted attack, the IDF’s Central Command will be permitted to expel the relatives of the Palestinian assailants from their hometowns to other areas of the West Bank.

The explanatory text accompanying the bill touts Israel’s deterrence as “the cornerstone of Israeli security and a way to save lives and uphold law and order.”

On Thursday afternoon, a Palestinian terrorist opened fire at the bus stop near the Givat Assaf outpost, killing two soldiers, critically injuring a third, and seriously wounding a civilian woman, before fleeing the scene. The IDF later identified the slain soldiers as Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef, 20, and Sgt. Yosef Cohen, 19.

A photo composite shows Sgt. Yosef Cohen (L) and Staff. Sgt Yoval Mor Yosef of the Israel Defense Forces’ Kfir Brigade. The two were killed on December 13, 2018, in a shooting terror attack outside the Givat Assaf settlement outpost in the central West Bank. (Israel Defense Forces)

The shooting attack took place on Route 60, some two kilometers (1.25 miles) from Ofra, where on Sunday a number of terrorists driving in a white car opened fire at a group of people standing at the settlement’s bus stop, hitting seven of them, including a heavily pregnant woman who was seriously injured and whose baby — delivered in emergency surgery — later died as a result of the attack.

Also Thursday, Border Police shot and killed a Palestinian in Jerusalem’s Old City who stabbed two officers, lightly wounding them.

The army said another Palestinian tried to ram his car into soldiers outside Ramallah, though defense officials told Channel 10 news it appeared not to have been an attack. The Palestinian driver was shot dead by Israeli troops.

Bennett had tried to bring the same expulsion legislation for a committee vote at the beginning of November but it was put off.

“The Palestinian terrorist must understand that violence doesn’t pay and the State of Israel will settle the score,” Bennett said at the time. “Deporting the families to another area will improve deterrence and send the message to the Palestinian public: There is zero tolerance for terrorism.”

The proposed legislation comes after years in which the government sought to advance a bill to expel terrorists’ families to the Gaza Strip. Supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the proposal in 2016 received wide support within the coalition, including from Kulanu party leader Moshe Kahlon, as well as from the opposition’s Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid.

However Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said the move would contravene Israeli and international law, and efforts to advance the legislation were subsequently dropped.

Security forces map for demolition the home of Palestinian who killed an IDF soldier, seen here in the al-Am’ari refugee camp in the West Bank, October 2, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

A number of other measures used by Israel as deterrent measures, such as home demolitions, closing off hometowns of attackers, and revoking work permits, have been criticized as a form of collective punishment. Israel says the measures are necessary as disincentives to terrorism.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, responding to the attacks Thursday, ordered a series of security measures including that the process of demolishing the homes of terrorists be expedited to take just 48 hours from the moment a decision is taken to carry out the punishment, reducing the time allotted to residents of the building to appeal against the measure. In the past, residents have usually had at least a week to appeal the controversial punitive measure in Israel’s courts.

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