In first, court revokes citizenship of Arab Israeli car-ramming attacker

Measure called for by interior minister; judge rules that by committing a terror attack, Alaa Raed Ahmad Zayoud removed himself from society

Suspect Alaa Raed Ahmad Zayoud at Haifa Magistrate's Court (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
Suspect Alaa Raed Ahmad Zayoud at Haifa Magistrate's Court (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

The Haifa Magistrate’s Court on Sunday revoked the citizenship of an Arab Israeli man convicted of carrying out a combined stabbing and car-ramming attack that seriously injured an IDF soldier as well as three others last year.

The ruling marked the first time Israel has stripped an Arab Israeli of citizenship over terror charges, activists said.

The court was responding to a request from Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.

Alaa Raed Ahmad Zayoud was convicted of four counts of attempted murder after he rammed an Israeli soldier, seriously injuring her, and then stepped out of the car to stab three others, causing them light to moderate wounds, on October 11, 2015.

The attack took place on Route 65 near the entrance to Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, northeast of Hadera, in the midst of a wave of stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison in June last year.

The court ruled that after Zayoud’s citizenship is revoked in October he will be given a temporary status, as exists in citizenship laws, and that it will be extended from time to time at the discretion of the interior minister after he has completed his sentence.

The Adalah NGO said it would file a Supreme Court appeal of what it called a “dangerous precedent,” along with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

“Alaa Zayoud will be left stateless, in contravention of international law,” Adalah said in a statement.

Deri, last May, filed a request with the court to revoke Zayoud’s citizenship. The move had also been green-lighted by the attorney general. Zayoud is a resident of the Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm. At the time, Deri said he had also informed the family that the ministry would not renew the residency of Zayoud’s Palestinian father, who is not an Israeli citizen.

Deputy president of the Haifa Magistrate’s Court Avraham Elyakim said in his ruling that the measure was “suitable and proportional.”

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri leads a Shas faction meeting at the Knesset on July 3, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shas party leader Aryeh Deri leads a Shas faction meeting at the Knesset on July 3, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“For every citizen, alongside his rights, there are commitments,” Elyakim reasoned. “One of them is the significant and important commitment to maintain loyalty to the state, which is given expression also in the commitment to not carry out terror acts to harm its residents and their security.

“We cannot allow an Israeli citizen to impact the lives and dignity of other Israeli citizens, and whoever decides to do so in acts of terror removes himself from the general society of the country,” he added.

Deri said the decision will help prevent future attacks, Channel 2 new reported.

“The court decision strengthens the deterrent and strengthens our campaign to protect the security of the country,” Deri said in a statement. “The decision states unequivocally that anyone who harms the state or its citizens can’t be a part of it.”

Zayoud had admitted to investigators that his attack was “nationalistically motivated,” a police term indicating a terror attack. His confession marks a retraction from his initial claim that the attack was an accidental car collision, and the stabbings an act of self-defense after he was attacked by onlookers.

In his testimony, Zayoud told investigators he wished to kill himself by killing Jews.

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