Interior minister to deport widow of Har Nof terrorist

Gilad Erdan strips Nadia Abu Jamal of residency, social benefits; rights group condemns move as ‘collective punishment’

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

The two terrorists from Jabel Mukaber who carried out the attack on the Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem, November 18, 2014 (screen capture: Channel 2)
The two terrorists from Jabel Mukaber who carried out the attack on the Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem, November 18, 2014 (screen capture: Channel 2)

Interior Minister Gilad Erdan canceled the residency permit of the widow of one of the Har Nof synagogue killers on Wednesday, effectively deporting her out of Israeli territory and stripping her of any financial or social benefits.

In a statement posted to his Facebook page, the interior minister said Nadia Abu Jamal had been granted entry to Israel on the basis of the “family reunification” law after marrying one of the terrorists-to-be, Ghassan Abu Jamal, a resident of East Jerusalem.

“All those weighing whether to engage in terror, all those thinking about harming innocent citizens, all those involved in terror, need to take into account that there will likely be repercussions, not only personally, but for their families as well,” Erdan wrote.

Nadia Abu Jamal will be deported to Palestinian Authority-controlled territory, where she is from, Channel 2 reported.

Israel annexed what had been the Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem after capturing the area in 1967’s Six Day War and offered permanent residence status to its inhabitants.

East Jerusalem residents generally have Israeli papers that enable them to travel freely about the city and enjoy the social benefits awarded to Israeli citizens.

Human rights group rights B’Tselem slammed the decision to revoke Abu Jamal’s residency permit.

“We object to this measure. It’s abuse of a minister’s authority and a form of collective punishment,” spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli told AFP. “She isn’t accused of any harm, and the revoking of her residency status will actually mean she will be banished from her home and thrown out of the city she lives in.

“Residency and social benefits… aren’t gifts or favors the authorities bestow and can then take away. They’re essential aspects of people’s existence,” Michaeli said.

Minister of Home Front Defense Gilad Erdan (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Minister of Home Front Defense Gilad Erdan (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Erdan’s move comes as Israel has been stepping up its efforts against terrorists and their families, including renewing the controversial practice of home demolitions, and withholding the bodies of the Palestinian operatives from their families.

The families of Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, cousins from East Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood who perpetrated the deadly terror attack last week at a synagogue in the capital’s Har Nof neighborhood, were said to receive demolition orders for their homes last Thursday. However, the structures have yet to be razed. The Israeli government is also withholding the bodies of the two cousins, who were shot dead at the scene by police, as a punitive measure.

The Abu Jamal cousins stormed a Har Nof synagogue on Tuesday morning, killing Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kupinsky, Rabbi Kalman Levine and Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg. Zidan Saif, a policeman, was critically hurt by gunfire, and later succumbed to his wounds, bringing the death toll to five.

Home demolition orders were issued to the families of three other East Jerusalem terrorists, while the Silwan home of Abdelrahman al-Shaludi was destroyed last week. The 21-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem had rammed his car into Israeli pedestrians in October, killing 3-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and Karen Yemima Muscara, an Ecuadorean woman studying in the city, and was killed by security forces.

The punitive measure has been condemned by the international community. Last week, US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said the demolitions “are counterproductive in an already tense situation.”

“This is a practice I would remind that the Israeli government itself discontinued in the past, recognizing its effects,” he said.

On Sunday, Erdan revoked the permanent residency of an East Jerusalem man who drove a suicide bomber to his destination in 2001 to carry out a deadly attack which claimed the lives of 21 Israelis.

At the same time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would pass a bill that would to do the same to East Jerusalemites who incite against Israel. A preliminary version of the bill was presented on Tuesday by MK Yariv Levin.

AFP contributed to this report.

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