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21.3.2017

Vindictive policy and collective punishment: the military demolishes the families’ homes, the National Insurance Institute denies benefits, and the Ministry of Interior engages in deportation – thus the state persecutes the relatives of assailants

Harassment on part of Israeli authorities directed against assailants’ relatives living in Jerusalem has long since become routine. Alongside the draconian policy of punitive home demolition, implemented by the Israeli military branch, causing dozens of innocent families to lose their homes, the Ministry of Interior condemns relatives living in Israel to be deported from their homes, and recently the National Insurance Institute (NII) has begun denying family members, including children, their entitlement to benefits and health insurance.

Thus happened to a woman from East Jerusalem, who arrived at the health clinic to receive medical treatment and discovered that her own health insurance and that of her five children – all permanent Israeli residents – had been revoked, and that they were no longer entitled to medical care and other social security rights. The woman did not receive any prior notice about the NII’s intent to strip the family of their lawful rights, and neither was she summoned to any hearing on the matter, as required. Some two months earlier, the father of the family perpetrated an attack against Israelis in Jerusalem, and on December 22, 2016, the military punitively demolished the family home in Aqab Village. The proximity of the events is no coincidence and this is not an isolated case. HaMoked knows of several families, all with small children, whose social rights were revoked in the past 18 months, in proximity to an attack perpetrated by a family member.

Recently the NII has been denying, with a single keystroke, many people – including children and patients – their basic rights depriving them overnight of their social security rights and health insurance. This also constitutes collective punishment. Moreover, it contradicts the NII’s express undertaking, endorsed in the High Court judgment in HCJ 4678/99, that “the right to be heard must be given to every person who appeared as insured in the records with respect to the health insurance law… before the NII receives a final decision that the person is not an Israeli resident and therefore is not entitled to health services under the national health insurance”. Instead, the NII forces the innocent family members to undergo a bureaucratic odyssey, where their life in the city is placed under doubt and any appeal to the authorities is handled with deliberate foot-dragging.

At the same time, the Ministry of Interior has been exacerbating its wrongful and vindictive policy misusing its power to decide the fate of people and condemning them to exile from their families, homes and communities. Thus recently, the Minister of Interior announced that he had revoked the Israeli status of eleven relatives of a man who perpetrated an attack in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon HaNatziv on January 8, 2017.

Moreover recently a woman, originally from the West Bank, who has been living for many years with her Israeli resident husband and their children in Jerusalem, was informed that she would not be given status in Israel due to her brother in law’s involvement in an attack against Israelis in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof some 18 month ago. Thus, contrary to the Minister of Interior’s decision to grants Israeli status to Palestinians whose family unification application had been approved by late 2003, and although the woman meets these conditions, she has been condemned to go on living without status or rights because of someone else’s action.

Different branches of the state act together to inflict collective punishment and revenge on innocent family members; one branch demolishes the family homes; another deprives them of their social security rights and a third pursues their deportation.
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