Binyamin Netanyahu has threatened to expel families of Palestinian attackers to Gaza after a five-month wave of violence against Israeli citizens and targets that has met with deadly retaliation from security forces.
Netanyahu said on Wednesday he had asked the attorney general to examine the possibility of carrying out such expulsions. Rights groups immediately denounced the plan.
“Expelling family members of Palestinian terrorists who aided attacks to Gaza will lead to a significant decrease in terrorist attacks,” a spokesman for Netanyahu said.
The proposal could prove to be a fresh source of tension ahead of a visit by the US vice-president, Joe Biden, beginning on 8 March.
The violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories since October 2015 has killed 180 Palestinians as well as 28 Israelis, an American, a Sudanese and an Eritrean, according to figures collected by Agence France-Presse.
Most of the Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces while carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to Israeli authorities. Others were shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes or demonstrations.
On Wednesday two 18-year-old Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops after infiltrating a West Bank settlement and wounding a settler, the military said.
Later in the day, the army said, “two assailants stabbed two soldiers” guarding another settlement, Har Bracha, near the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank.
Gaza, hit by three wars with Israel since 2008 and run by the Islamist movement Hamas, is under an Israeli blockade that severely restricts the movement of people and goods.
The attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, has reportedly said previously that expelling Palestinians to Gaza would violate both Israeli and international law.
Mandelblit was said to have made his recommendation after a member of Netanyahu’s cabinet who is also a political rival of the prime minister requested expelling relatives of attackers to Gaza or Syria.
Netanyahu has come under heavy pressure from rightwing members of his coalition over the continuing wave of violence.
Sarit Michaeli, spokeswoman for Israeli rights group B’Tselem, said: “Any form of collective punishment is illegal and in this case the point is trying to punish the relatives of attacks who aren’t actually accused of anything.
“This is a complete breach of international law and the Geneva convention.”
Biden’s talks with the Israelis were expected to include defence aid, Israeli-Palestinian violence and the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
Source The Guardian