Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the the attorney general to examine the possibility of expelling relatives of Palestinian attackers who help in assaults to the Gaza Strip, his office said on Wednesday.
"Expelling family members of Palestinian terrorists who aided attacks to Gaza will lead to a significant decrease in terrorist attacks," a spokesman said on Twitter.
In his letter to the attorney general, Netanyahu wrote that attackers in the West Bank often come from families who encourage and abet their activities.
Gaza has been described as the "world's largest open prison". Its more than one million people are blockaded on land and sea by Israel, and its border crossing to Egypt in Raffah has been closed by the Egyptian government for months at a time.
It also has one of the world's highest unemployment rates, and the UN development agency said in September that conditions there could make it uninhabitable by 2020.
“I request your legal opinion to allow the procedure of transferring families who assist terror to the Gaza Strip,” remarked Netanyahu.
However, Haaretz reported that the Israeli attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, has already told the Israeli cabinet that such a move would contravene international and national law after it was proposed by intelligence minister Yisrael Katz.
Haaretz said Katz had also proposed that Palestinians could be sent to Syria, which has been torn apart by years of fighting.
The letter was delivered hours after the latest violence in the West Bank, when two Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces after entering the illegal Israeli settlement of Eli, near Nablus, and wounding a settler.
A wave of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories since early October has killed 180 Palestinians as well as 28 Israelis, an American, a Sudanese and an Eritrean, according to an AFP toll.
Most of the Palestinians who died in the violence were killed by Israeli forces while allegedly carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks. Others were shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes or demonstrations.
Sarit Michaeli, spokeswoman for Israeli rights group B'Tselem, said "it seems obvious that the prime minister is under a lot of pressure from the right now, from politicians accusing him of being soft against the wave of attacks."
"Any form of collective punishment is illegal and in this case the point is trying to punish the relatives of attackers who aren't actually accused of anything," she said.
"This is a complete breach of international law and the Geneva Convention."
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