Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to conduct a legal review of a procedure that would allow the state to expel family members of Palestinian terrorists to Gaza.
"Many of the recent terror attacks have been committed by lone terrorists. Often these terrorists have come from families that encourage and assist them," Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Mandelblit.
"[I] believe that using this tool can lead to a significant decrease in terror attacks against the State of Israel, its citizens and its residents," the letter continued.
Earlier this week, Israel's Army Radio reported that Mandelblit is opposed to such a move due to international legal constraints, although it is supported by other Likud ministers as well as Netanyahu.
The AG said that the law would be a violation of both Israeli and international law. According to a source present at the cabinet meeting during which Mandelblit raised his objection, the AG's opposition is currently the only barrier to the proposed bill progressing in Israel.
Nonetheless, Netanyahu claimed that the legal restrictions preventing its implementation were a misinterpretation of international legal statute.
“We have not managed to bring about the deportation of terrorists’ families. We cannot do this because the courts define this as a war crime. That is how it is defined in the Geneva Conventions, et cetera," Netanyahu said during a cabinet meeting according to Ynet.
“I think the intention there regarded relocation of entire populations,” he continued. “They interpret it as relocating one person or another. I am certain this was not the intent of those who legislated the conventions.
"But that’s how they interpret it in the world and, unfortunately, that’s how they interpret it here.”
This is not the first time the proposal has been discussed. During the second intifada deportation was also considered, with then-Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein saying that it was permissible if it could be proven that the relatives had advance knowledge or had sheltered individuals being sought for arrest.
Deportations were only carried out after legal proceedings.
Tal Shalev is i24news' diplomatic correspondent