BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- After facing imminent demolition of their home, with some being rounded up in Israeli detention centers, the relatives of the slain Palestinian who carried out a deadly truck attack in a Jerusalem-area settlement will now have their East Jerusalem residency status revoked.
Israeli Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri decided to revoke the residency status and the corresponding social benefits of 13 family members of Fadi al-Qunbar, including his mother.
Al-Qunbar's relatives, who have denied having advanced knowledge of any plans to carry out an attack, reside in the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal-al-Mukabbir in occupied East Jerusalem, which is located adjacent to the settlement where the attack took place.
"This is a decision that signals a new era against terrorism and terrorists who use their status to carry out attacks against citizens. From now on, there will be zero tolerance towards those who are involved in terrorism against Israel," Israeli news site Ynet quoted Deri as saying.
"Let this be known to all who are plotting, planning or considering carrying out an attack, that their families will pay a heavy price for their actions and the consequences will be severe and far-reaching."
Deri decided on the measure after "acting on information presented to him by the Shin Bet," according to Ynet, and after discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who supported the move.
Ynet added in their report that al-Qunbar’s mother Minwa was married to a man who had a second wife, contrary to Israeli law, seeming to suggest that the illegal marriage would be used as a legal justification for the unprecedented move to revoke her Jerusalem ID.
While punitive residency revocation has not been implemented in this way before, more than 14,000 Jerusalem residencies for Palestinians have been revoked for other reasons since Israel illegal annexed East Jerusalem in 1967.
Over the years, “successive Israeli governments have cleverly chosen the timing of new regulatory turning points to broaden the scope of residency revocations, manipulating temporary crises to do so,” think tank al-Shabaka wrote in a report last year
The beginning of a wave of political unrest in October 2015 was seized as an opportunity to set a new legal precedent for residence revocation, the report said, when the Israeli Security Cabinet issued a decision to the effect that "the permanent residency rights of terrorists will be revoked," without defining who was a terrorist.
Al-Shabaka said at the time it was unknown how many Jerusalemite Palestinians had been affected by the new criterion, though a number of revocation orders were pending in Israeli courts.
It argued that Israel’s aim in the policy of residency status revocation was to create “new Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons, taking advantage of every opportunity to do so and exploiting temporary crises to promote permanent measures."
“The Israeli government is describing these actions as regular law enforcement measures, but analysis shows that they are part of its ongoing policies of forced displacement, with the aim of making long term demographic changes and maintaining an overwhelming Jewish majority in Jerusalem.”
Former Israeli army general and current Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction Yoav Galant told Ynet
that "we need to kill him, demolish his home, and expel his family. And his family should be expelled not to Gaza, but to Syria."
Member of Israel’s parliament and Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara had earlier called to immediately expel the family to the besieged Gaza Strip, a punitive measure which has been used by Israel against Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Kara demanded that the family members of “terrorists” be expelled to Gaza within 48 hours, saying that demolishing the al-Qunbar family home, which the Israel's security cabinet ordered to be carried out as soon as possible, was not a sufficient response.
The mounting calls came as Israel has come under harsh condemnation over the past several years for its response to attacks committed by Palestinians on Israelis, which rights groups have said amounted to “collective punishment” and represents a clear violation of international law.