Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to investigate the legality of deporting the families of terrorists from Yehudah and Shomron to Gaza. In a letter to Mandelblit, Netanyahu wrote that “the recent wave of terror attacks have been characterized by the actions of lone terrorists, who often come from families and communities that assist them in their actions. I believe that using this tool will help stem the tide of terrorism against Israelis.”
The legal establishment in Israel has long opposed the move, Israel Radio said. The deportation of terrorists to Gaza “is probably illegal under international law, and in any event will give Israel even more of a black eye in the international community,” said one commentator. “There is a reason this idea has been rejected time and time again.”
Netanyahu believes that there is a legal case to be made for the deportations. “I hereby ask you to examine the legality of this process,” Netanyahu wrote. “I believe it is very important for the security of Israelis.”
Israeli officials have said terrorists are being incited to violence by their leaders and on social media. In his letter to Mandelblit, Netanyahu said that some of their families had also been complicit.
“Many of the terrorist activities in recent months have been carried out by terrorists profiled as ‘lone wolves,” Netanyahu wrote. “These terrorists sometimes come from families that encourage and abet their actions.”
Commenting on the idea, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz praised Netanyahu, saying that he planned to propose a law in the Knesset next week endorsing the idea. “My law will authorize the government to deport terrorists to Gaza, or Syria, and it will be sponsored by MKs in the coalition and opposition. If the Prime Minister is really behind this idea, the implementation of this law should be quick and easy. As far as international opposition is concerned, I will repeat what I have said in the past – we will manage.”
Mandelblit, who assumed his post as Attorney General last month, and his predecessor, have rejected similar expulsion proposals floated by ministers.
But with pressure growing on Netanyahu to take tougher action against the Palestinian violence now in its sixth month, he appeared to have little to lose politically by formally asking for Mandelblit’s approval, even if it was unlikely to be granted.