GAZA (Ma’an) — Israeli leaders continued to demand that extreme punitive actions be taken against the family of a Palestinian man who carried out a deadly vehicular attack on Sunday — with one minister advocating that the slain attacker’s relatives be exiled to Syria — as five of his family members remained in Israeli custody despite their insistence they had no advanced knowledge of plans for the attack.
The mounting calls came as Israel has come under harsh condemnation over the past several years for its response to attacks committed by Palestinians on Israelis, which rights groups have said amounted to “collective punishment” and represents a clear violation of international law.
Al-Qunbar and his family were from the neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir in occupied East Jerusalem, which is located next to the settlement.
Former Israeli army general and current Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction Yoav Galant called on the government on Monday to expel the al-Qunbar family to Syria and deny his relatives national insurance benefits.
Galant told Ynet
that he had taken his proposal to the Israeli security cabinet, calling to “promote legislation that would give the Interior minister the authority to immediately expel, and beyond that the authority to immediately revoke national insurance benefits from the family of anyone involved in terror activity.”
“We need to kill him, demolish his home, and expel his family. And his family should be expelled not to Gaza, but to Syria.”
Member of Israel’s parliament and Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara had earlier called to immediately expel the family to the besieged Gaza Strip, a punitive measure which has been used by Israel against Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Kara demanded that the family members of “terrorists” be expelled to Gaza within 48 hours, saying that demolishing the al-Qunbar family home, which the Israel’s security cabinet ordered to be carried out as soon as possible, was not a sufficient response.
The MK called Israel’s policy of punitively demolishing the homes of slain Palestinian attackers and rendering their family members homeless “merely a symbolic gesture,” according to Israeli news site Arutz Sheva.
On Sunday, Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan ordered that al-Qunbar’s body not be returned to his family for burial, reportedly saying: “This is a particularly heinous, painful and serious crime that could lead to copycats. We will not allow the vile terrorist and his family to have a funeral that would grant him the respect that would encourage other attackers.”
The Israeli security cabinet also decided to reject family reunification requests of some of al-Qunbar’s relatives in Gaza and the occupied West Bank and to apply its controversial policy of administrative detention — internment without trial or charges — to suspected Islamic State sympathizers.
After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that al-Qunbar was “by all indications a supporter of the Islamic State,” many Israeli leaders have attempted to draw a link to similar vehicular attacks in Europe claimed by the Islamic State group.
Galant told Ynet that, “This phenomenon of global terrorism, in which people are beheaded or run over by trucks, is something that spreads through the web, on TV, in other places, and inspires others. We will not allow ISIS to establish itself in Judea and Samaria,” he said, using an Israeli term for the occupied West Bank.
However, in spite of comparisons with vehicular attacks elsewhere in the world, a number of alleged and actual car-ramming attacks have been carried out by Palestinians against Israelis since a wave of political unrest began in October 2015
, as part of what has been referred to as the “Jerusalem Intifada.”
While Israeli officials have often reiterated that Palestinian attacks on Israelis are due mainly to anti-Semitic sentiment or part of a international rise in Islamist extremism, many Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.
The military wing of the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, reacted to the attack by saying it was a natural response to the daily violence and restrictions Palestinians experience under the Israeli occupation, echoing a similar statement by the Hamas movement on Sunday.
“The leaders of the Israeli occupation make hideous statements inciting (Israeli soldiers) to commit field executions
and imposes closures on holy sites
in an attempt to ‘Judaize’ them,” the statement said. “The Israeli army carries out these policies thinking that the resistance and the Palestinian people are not capable of responding on both political and military levels.”
The group called the attack “a message to Israeli leaders that Palestinian people will respond to their crimes.”
Meanwhile, the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said that the attack was part of the popular response to Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people in the occupied territory.
The PFLP said that the deadly incident proved that the “Intifada continues,” and called upon all Palestinian national organizations to take responsibility for protecting and reinforcing Palestinian self-determination in Jerusalem.
The PFLP added that the celebrations that took place in the Gaza Strip after the attack were “a spontaneous popular reaction that confirmed the solidarity of Palestinian people in all districts.”
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned last year a similar wave of attacks in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, but said that Israeli security measures were failing to “address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians — especially young people.”
He added: “As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.”