Israel has begun to employ new means of collective punishment for the families of alleged Palestinian ‘terrorists’: Lawsuits to cover the state expenses in conjunction with its slain security personnel’s headstones and reimbursement of benefits the state pays to their families.
The first case is that of Fadi Qanbar, who in January ran over a group of soldiers in East Jerusalem, killing four soldiers, himself shot dead on scene.
The State is claiming $2.3 million from Qanbar’s widow (with four children aged 1-8), for its expenses including the soldiers’ headstones and for reimbursement of benefits the state pays the soldiers’ families. This occurs after already having sealed the East-Jerusalemite family’s home with cement, and after proceedings were also begun to strip 12 of his relatives – including Qanbar’s mother and his sister’s young children – of their residency status so they could be expelled to the West Bank, as Nir Hasson reported in Haaretz.
So we have this massive collective punishment, including destruction of the family home and punishing even secondary relatives (planned deportation of Qanbar’s sister’s children). How much more illegality and cruelty can one even conceive? On top of that, Israel is demanding expenses for tombstones of its security forces and benefits to their families.
The latter is to be looked at as a mirror image of Israel’s campaign against the PLO’s paying of financial support to families of security prisoners and families of Palestinians who were killed in attacks on Israelis – what Israel generally appraises as ‘rewarding terrorists’ (note as well, that hundreds of the Palestinian prisoners are held without charge under Israel’s infamous ‘Administrative detention’).
Recently President Trump’s envoy Jared Kushner reportedly angered PA President Abbas when he took this issue up in their talks:
“The American delegation accepted Israel’s position with regard to paying salaries to prisoners,” a Palestinian source told Ynet, “and described it as a means of inciting terror, demanding it be stopped.”
Kushner also suggested another compromise, proposing that the PA stop paying the salaries of an estimated 600 Palestinian prisoners sentenced to life by Israeli courts. Abbas reportedly rejected the proposal.
Israel is currently working on a bill to slash about 285 million USD annually from its tax returns due the PA, as a means of compensating (or rather punishing) for the economic support the PLO is estimated to be paying to the families.
So, Israel is honoring its ‘heroes’ and providing grants to their families. Fair enough. But when Palestinians do it, it’s ‘incitement to terror’. And in any case, why should the family of a slain Palestinian pay for this service that Israel decides to provide?
Let’s also take a look at the exorbitant demand of the Qanbar family: $2.3 million USD. Even taking Palestinian Media Watch’s generous estimation of the support paid to Qanbar’s widow: $760 per month. That’s about $9.000 per year. She would need about 250 years to cover the amount Israel demands.
Supposedly, such draconian economic measures are meant to serve as ‘deterrence’, since the house demolition (sealing) was perhaps not enough. But even the house demolitions have been recognized by authoritative Israeli military panels to be of no meaningful effect. In 2005, an Israeli army panel headed by Major General Udi Shani reported that punitive demolitions had no deterrent effect that would prevent any future “terror” attacks. The Shani panel
“unequivocally recommended putting an end to the demolition of homes in the territories [and] the chief of staff and the defense minister both fully endorsed and adopted the recommendation”.
But in 2008, Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak put it back into practice.
By coincidence, two days ago the Israeli Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the family of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, the 16-year-old Jerusalem boy who was burned alive by Israeli Jewish terrorists in 2014, to have the homes of those terrorists demolished. The Israeli Defense Ministry told them in a letter that there was no need to demolish the homes of Jewish terrorists at this stage, as such attacks are too infrequent to warrant the deterrent action. The court also noted that the practice is only justified for its possible deterrent power, and so must be carried out in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack and have a reasonable chance of deterring future attacks. Given the long delay between the attack and the filing of the appeal for demolition, the specific appeal in this case was rejected.
But that’s just legal nonsense, because the demolitions have no deterrent effect in the first place, as Israel’s own authorities determined. One wonders whether the Supreme Court made some special survey on how non-deterrent the demolitions are when carried out ‘immediately’ as opposed to how non-deterrent they are if carried out with ‘long delay’…
Perhaps Israel will do a special survey, checking up on the Qanbar family after 250 years, when they have paid their debt, to see if they indeed have behaved themselves in the meantime.