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22.5.2008

HaMoked is appealing against the Interior Ministry's arbitrary refusal of two family unification applications simply because the applicants are the brother and sister of the perpetrator of the attack on the "Mercaz HaRav" Yeshiva in March 2008: HaMoked argues that the considerations behind the decision are unrelated to the family unification proceeding; that the decision is motivated by the desire for revenge; and that it constitutes collective punishment of relatives, which is contrary to the basic rules of justice and to Israeli law and court rulings

The Appellants in the two applications are residents of the village of Jabal Mukaber in Jerusalem. The first application concerns the brother of the man who committed the attack. The brother has lived in the village all his life. He was married in 2000,and has since lived with his wife in a home owned by the family. The couple has four children, all of whom were born in Jerusalem. Three of the children are registered as permanent Israeli residents; the application to register the fourth and youngest child is currently being processed by the Interior Ministry. The Appellant submitted an application for family unification with his wife in 2001. As there is no dispute that the family lives in practice in Jerusalem, and as the wife has received police and security clearance, the application was approved, and she has been receiving permits to enter and remain in Israel since 2004. 

On 6 March 2008, eight people were killed in an appalling attack at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Shortly thereafter it emerged that the attack was carried out by Ala Abu Dahim, the Appellant’s brother. In early April, the Appellant received a letter from the Interior Ministry:

In accordance with the decision of the head of the Population Administration, Mr. Yaacov Gannot, it has been decided to refuse the above-mentioned family unification application since you are relatives of the attacker responsible for the death of eight civilians at Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva.  

The letter does not detail any grounds for the refusal apart from the familial relationship with the person who committed the attack. The Interior Ministry does not question the genuine nature of the marriage; nor does it suspect that the family no longer lives in Jerusalem, or that some security or criminal issues have suddenly come up regarding the Appellant’s wife. The decision establishes that the Appellant and his wife are to be punished because of the brother’s actions, even if it is accepted that they had no connection with the incident. In other words, they are being punished for someone else’s actions out of a sense of revenge and to deter others. 

As noted, the sister of the man who committed the attack was also affected by the arbitrary decision of the head of the Population Administration. She received an identical letter regarding her application for family unification with her husband. HaMoked has submitted a similar petition in her case. 

HaMoked emphasizes that such considerations are unrelated to the family unification procedure; even if the purpose is to serve as a deterrent, the decision is unlawful. The High Court of Justice (HCJ) ruled in the past in the Ajuri case, regarding the possibility of restricting the place of residence of a person within the Occupied Territories, that “the place of residence of an innocent relative who did not collaborate with the person, or of a non-innocent relative who does not present a danger cannot be restricted […] even if it were proved that restricting the place of residence of a relative might deter other terrorists.” HaMoked argues that such actions constitute collective punishment, which is contrary to all the basic rules of justice. 

The decision by the head of the Population Administration is the second attempt to punish the family and avenge the brother’s actions. Immediately after the attack, the media reported that the State was considering the possibility of demolishing the family’s home as a punitive step, in accordance with Regulation 119 of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations. HaMoked contacted the military prosecution and objected to the decision, recalling that the state declared (Hebrew) in the past that it would not use the above-mentioned regulation and, in any case, would grant right of hearing before exercising such authority. 

To view the Interior Ministry’s decision dated 16 March 2008 (Hebrew) 

To view the appeal dated 14 May 2008 (Hebrew) 

To view HaMoked’s letter to the MAG regarding the home of the Abu Dahim family, dated 13 March 2008 (Hebrew)

mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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