Two siblings of a Palestinian suicide-bomb planner were expelled from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip for two years on Wednesday morning after the Israeli Supreme Court found that such expulsions are appropriate when “there is proof that a person was involved in a relative’s act of terror and that he or she poses a genuine threat to security.” The court was satisfied that Intisar Ajouri had sewed explosive belts for her brother’s bombers, that Kifah Ajouri had arranged hiding places for his brother’s team and stood watch as explosives were transported, and that their expulsion would be a deterrent to others. It denied the army’s request for a third expulsion because there was insufficient proof that the accused was linked to his sibling’s militant activities.
Yediot Ahronot said the court’s ruling “smacks of the popular Jewish adage—’It’s kosher, but it stinks.’ ” The editorial said the court seemed to “understand the security establishment’s feelings and needs, and certainly the public mood, which is gnashing its teeth in the face of waves of suicide-terrorists,” but the paper took comfort in the narrow circumstances in which collective punishment will be permitted. The Jerusalem Post reported that a U.S. State Department spokesman opposed Israel’s actions because the U.S. expects “the war against terror to be based on information against specific suspects and not against their relatives.”
Ha’aretz explained that the court found “that the relocation of the brother and sister to the Gaza Strip is not ‘deportation,’ as defined by Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, because deportation involves expulsion to a foreign country, whereas the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are essentially a ‘single territorial unit.’ ” Consequently, the expulsion amounts to “assigned residence,” which is acceptable under the Geneva Convention. A Ha’aretz analysis said the distinction between relocation and deportation “was not meant as a verbal trick to whitewash the severity of the action. It was a significant, even real distinction. Relocation means moving a person inside a territory, like from Haifa to Tel Aviv. Deportation means moving them to a foreign territory, or into an occupying power’s territory from occupied territory.” According to Britain’s Guardian, “Palestinians say that since the army has cut off all access to and from Gaza, the impact on the two will be the same as being sent abroad.”