Middle East News

Israel extends collective punishment to grandparents, neighbours and friends 

Over 1,100 Palestinians will have their entry permits revoked in Israel’s latest escalation of its unlawful collective punishment. Draconian measures adopted recently by Israel’s security cabinet are to be extended to punish the cousins and grandparents of Palestinians branded as terrorists by the apartheid state.

Until March, only first-degree relatives — parents and siblings — had their permits to enter Israel and occupied Jerusalem revoked as punishment for alleged terrorism by a close family member. However, recently introduced measures following a string of attacks will see this unlawful practice widened to target second-degree relatives such as cousins and grandparents as well as neighbours and close friends, even if there is no indication that they had prior knowledge of the attacks or provided any assistance to the attackers.

Israel instituted a permit system in order to enforce restrictions on the movement of Palestinians. It requires all Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories to obtain a permit in order to enter Israel, East Jerusalem included, for any purpose, including work, medical care and family visits. Permits are also used to control the movement of Palestinians when they pass through military and police checkpoints.

Ministers in the security cabinet are said to have asked initially for a larger group of relatives to be sanctioned, with one cabinet member asking to impose sanctions against the entire clan of a “terrorist”. However, according to Haaretz, security officials opposed this idea, arguing that this was too far-reaching. Clans in the West Bank can include up to 15,000 or even 50,000 people.

READ: Israel imposing ‘collective punishment’ on Jenin

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A relic of the British mandate era, collective punishment is one of the most extreme measures that Israel has employed against the Palestinians. After it extended its occupation to the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967, it became a regular practice with punitive house demolitions.

This policy is, by definition, meant to harm people who have done nothing wrong and are suspected of no wrongdoing, but are simply related to Palestinians who have attacked or attempted to attack Israeli civilians or security forces.

Under international humanitarian law, no person may be punished for acts that he or she did not commit. International law also ensures that the collective punishment of a group of persons for a crime committed by an individual is forbidden, whether in the case of prisoners of war or of any other individuals. More controversially, international law permits those living under military occupation — the Palestinians, for example — to engage in resistance to the occupation using any means at their disposal.

Israel’s Justice Minister, Gideon Sa’ar called on the country’s judiciary on Monday to examine the possibility of deporting the families of Palestinians involved in recent attacks against Israelis to the besieged Gaza Strip.

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