Posted on 26 April 2016
 as part of 

Israeli bills would allow punitive expulsions from the West Bank

Following the latest escalation in violence that started in November 2015,  media reports stated that the Israeli authorities were considering the “deportation” of families of alleged assailants from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, to the Gaza Strip or elsewhere as a response to “terrorist activities”.[i] On 21 January 2016, in reply to a letter by the Israeli human rights organization Hamoked, the Ministry of Justice stated that there was no such intention “at this stage”.[ii] Nonetheless, two related private bills were introduced in the Knesset in March 2016. These received support from the governing coalition as well as from some opposition parties.[iii]

The first – the Bill to Activate the Powers for Assigned Residency for Residents of the Area and their Families for their Participation in Terrorist Activities – is intended to allow for expulsions to Gaza, while the second – the Bill to Amend the Entry to Israel Law (Amendment-Cancellation of Visa and Permanent Residency for Terrorists and their Families for their Participation in Terrorist Activities) – seeks to allow deportation outside of the occupied Palestinian territory. On 23 March, the Knesset’s House Committee decided to expedite these two bills.[iv] The Israeli Cabinet also asked the Attorney General to approve the proposed steps, although the media reported that latter had already indicated that these laws would contravene both Israeli and international law.[v]

Punitive deportations, expulsions, or removals – whether as so-called “assigned residence” or otherwise – amount to forcible transfer and a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 147). The current bills also raise the risk of collective punishment, prohibited by Article 33, and additional human rights concerns, particularly as involvement in “terrorist activities” appears to be defined very broadly.

Palestinian family expelled from East Jerusalem following attack

On 10 March 2016, the Israeli authorities forced the family of a suspected perpetrator of a shooting attack to leave East Jerusalem. The attack, which had taken place two days before, resulted in the injury of two Israeli border policemen and the killing of the suspected perpetrator. The four eldest siblings and their mother were transported by the Israeli police to the Qalandiya checkpoint and ordered to leave East Jerusalem as they did not have a residency permit; their applications for permits were pending with the Israeli authorities at the time of the incident. Following the expulsion, the family, who had been living in East Jerusalem for a number of years, rented an apartment in a Jerusalem suburb (Bir Nabala).

* This article was contributed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

[i] Gili Cohen, “Israel's Defense Establishment Mulls Deporting Terrorists' Families to Gaza”, Haaretz, 24 November 2015.

[ii] Available here.

[iii] Jonathan Lis, ”Israeli Finance Minister Backs Deportation of Terrorists’ Families From West Bank to Gaza”, Ha’aretz, 15 March 2016.

[v] Barak Ravid, Netanyahu Seeks Attorney General's Authorization to Deport Terrorists' Families From West Bank to Gaza, Ha’aretz, 2 March 2016.