Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked on Wednesday ordered the expulsion of several relatives of a terrorist who killed four Israeli soldiers in a 2017 truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem, giving the family members seven days to leave the country or be forcibly removed.
Citing a Jerusalem appeals court ruling from last week authorizing her to deport 17 of Fadi al-Qanbar’s relatives, Shaked announced she was revoking the residency permits of seven of them and that they were therefore now illegally in Israel. It was unclear why those seven had been singled out.
Arguing the move had an important deterrent effect for potential assailants and citing recent security tensions, Shaked sent a letter to Public Security Minister Omer Barlev urging him to carry out the expulsions under his authority as overseer of the the police.
“The State of Israel needs to fight terror with all means available to it and the time has come to this use this tool for deterrence,” Shaked said in a statement.
Though they had permanent Jerusalem residency permits, al-Qanbar’s relatives are not Israeli citizens, and Shaked already moved to revoke their Jerusalem residency permits. Shaked did not say what country she believes will accept the seven deported individuals — who are not known to hold any other citizenship.
The left-wing Hamoked human rights group, whose attorneys represent 11 of al-Qanbar’s relatives, decried Shaked’s announcement as politically motivated.
“The interior minister is doing cheap election campaigning on the backs of innocent family members. Some of the family members are distantly related and some have lived in Jerusalem for decades, and there are no claims that they were involved or are suspects in any act of violence. This is a clear case of collective punishment,” said attorney Dani Shenhar from the organization.
Mossi Raz, a Knesset member of the left-wing Meretz party, similarly denounced Shaked as acting unethically and out of political motivations.
“A person is born here, raised here, raises their children here. They have no other citizenship and there’s no other place they can call their own. One day they find out that someone is trying to expel them because of a horrible crime that someone else committed. You don’t expel people just so Shaked can get a few more votes,” Raz said.
In a letter, Barlev agreed to have the police assist in the eviction, provided the Population, Immigration and Border Authority — which is part of the Interior Ministry — first formally inform the family of its pending deportation and grant the relatives “reasonable time” to leave — in this case by October 6.
If they do not heed the expulsion order, Barlev said, “the Israel Police will act to execute the ruling in accordance with legal provisions, list of priorities and operational needs.”
The parents of Cadet Shir Hajaj, one of the soldiers killed when al-Qanbar smashed his truck into a group of troops touring Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv promenade, called for more of the attacker’s relatives to be deported.
“This is a good start,” Herzl and Merav Hajaj said. “We think this expulsion can deter the next terrorist.”
The two also urged the interior minister to back their efforts to expel the Islamist Ra’am party — which, like Shaked, is part of the outgoing coalition — ahead of the upcoming elections.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies, who Shaked as head of the Jewish Home party is expected to back after the November 1 vote, repeatedly denounced Ra’am as “terror supporters” as part of their push to topple the last government.
The three other soldiers killed in the 2017 attack were Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel, Cadet Shira Tzur and Cadet Erez Orbach, all of whom were 20.
Another 16 people were injured in the attack in Armon Hanatziv by al-Qanbar, a resident of the nearby Jabel Mukaber neighborhood, who was fatally shot by troops and a civilian tour guide after plowing into a large group of soldiers with a large flatbed truck.
Then-interior minister Aryeh Deri made the initial move to expel a number of al-Qanbar’s relatives, whose appeal against the deportations was rejected by the court last week.
MK Moshe Arbel, a member of Deri’s ultra-Orthodox Shas party, sent Shaked a query later Wednesday arguing she had the authority to deport al-Qanbar’s relatives on her own and did not need Barlev to carry out the expulsions.
“Will you act to expel the family of the terrorist with the tools already in your hands today? If not, why?” Arbel, who served as a chief of staff to Deri when he led the Interior Ministry, asked in the letter.