Background: Terror plot may have blown family reunification

In latest Hamas suicide bomb plot, car carrying 100 kg. of explosives was driven to Tel Aviv by Palestinian married to Israeli woman.

bomb belt 298.88 idf (photo credit: IDF [file])
bomb belt 298.88 idf
(photo credit: IDF [file])
Human rights organizations will have a tougher time now persuading the High Court of Justice to overturn a provisional law prohibiting Palestinian men under the age of 35 and women under 25 from living in Israel with their Israeli spouses after the latest suicide bomb plot by Hamas. A car carrying 100 kg. of explosives was driven across the seam line from Kalkilya to Tel Aviv and back again to Kalkilya by a Palestinian married to an Israeli woman. As a result of Israel's family reunification policies, the suspect enjoyed residential status in Israel and therefore carried a blue identity card, allowing him to pass through IDF checks. Security forces have not released personal details about the would-be bomber, but it is clear that he either received his Israeli status as a result of family reunification procedures before stricter restrictions were first introduced in 2002, or that he met the terms of the restrictions that have been imposed since then. On January 8, during a debate in the Knesset Interior Committee prior to Knesset approval of the latest version of the temporary law, a Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agent said 38 out of the 272 suicide attacks (14 percent) that had been conducted in Israel were perpetrated by Palestinians carrying Israeli identity cards. Prohibitions on family reunification were first introduced by the Interior Ministry on April 1, 2002, following the suicide bombing at the Matza restaurant in Haifa's Neveh Sha'anan neighborhood in which 15 Israelis were killed. The driver of the car bomb was a Hamas terrorist who had married an Israeli and carried a blue identity card. Initially, the freeze on family reunification was total. No Palestinian who married an Israeli could begin the five-year process for obtaining residential rights or citizenship, and those who were in the middle of the process could not advance. On July 31, 2003, the Knesset turned the administrative decision into a one-year law, which was periodically extended. On July 27, 2005, the law was amended so that Palestinian women above the age of 25 and men above 35 could live with their Israeli spouses if they met security criteria. Younger Palestinians were still barred from living in Israel. On March 21, 2007, the law was amended again and extended until July 2008. The current law provides a humanitarian committee to consider exceptional requests for family reunification from women under 25 and men under 35, but toughens the security criteria and extends the restrictions to spouses from countries classified as enemy. The law in all its forms has been harshly criticized by human rights groups in Israel and abroad. In May, the High Court narrowly rejected a petition to overrule it in its second version. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On and the Israeli-Arab rights group Adalah have already declared they will petition against the newly amended law. The human rights groups claim the law violates the fundamental right of every citizen to a family and is motivated by Jewish demographic concerns. The law prevents roughly 20,000 Palestinians from living in Israel with their Israeli spouses and also prevents them from raising families in Israel. The government insists the temporary law is based on security considerations. Granting Palestinians Israeli identity cards and the right to unrestricted freedom of movement throughout Israel is dangerous, officials say.