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Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Militants 'to avenge' Israel expulsions
Intisar Ajouri (right)
Intisar Ajouri (right) - accused of handling explosives
Palestinian militants have vowed retaliation after the Israeli Supreme Court sanctioned the expulsion of relatives of a suspected Palestinian militant from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.

It is definitely a war crime

Saeb Erekat
Palestinian Authority negotiator

In a landmark ruling on Tuesday, a nine-judge panel upheld an order issued last month by a military court against the brother and sister of a Palestinian suspected of organising suicide bombings in Israel.

The militant Palestinian group Hamas described the ruling as a "grave escalation" which "will be met by an escalation in the Palestinian resistance".

The chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, Saeb Erekat, said it was "a sad, black day for human rights", adding that the Palestinian Authority might decide to file a complaint with the UN Security Council and the new International Criminal Court.

The Israeli Defence Ministry said the two would be expelled on Wednesday.


Violence continued in the West Bank as Israeli troops killed two Palestinians near a West Bank Jewish settlement.

Palestinian stonethrower
Curfew changes caused confusion in Ramallah
A military official said soldiers saw a weapon in the hand of one of the men and fired a tank shell at him. Palestinians said both were unarmed.

Troops also reportedly shot and wounded five Palestinians in Ramallah.

The incident appeared to result from confusion over the new curfew regime introduced to coincide with the beginning of the school year.

Earlier, Palestinian militant groups rejected a call by the Palestinian interior minister for a complete end to attacks against Israel.

Abdel Razak al-Yahiya on Monday said Palestinian violence was undermining the struggle for statehood and should be replaced by peaceful forms of resistance.

Two year exile

The army's original order to expel the brother and sister Kifah and Intisar Ajouri was condemned by human rights organisations, who said it contravened the Geneva Conventions and was therefore a war crime - likely to undermine efforts to establish peace in the region.

If the expulsions are carried out it will be the first time Israel has expelled a Palestinian from the area in which they live for 10 years.

The Israeli army (IDF) said the pair knew in advance about their brother Ali's plan to carry out attacks but did not act to prevent them.

The court ruled with a loud voice that deterrence cannot be a cause to take steps

Leah Tzemel, Ajouris' lawyer

The two are accused of providing logistical support for their brother, helping him avoid capture and having moved bombs.

The IDF said Ali Ajouri masterminded several suicide attacks, including one in Tel Aviv on 17 July, 2002, which killed five people and wounded 40 others.

The IDF said Intisar had sewn explosives into a belt used by a suicide bomber in one of the attacks.

Ali Ajouri was shot dead by Israeli troops on 6 August, 2002.

The court said that it "had proved that they [the Ajouris] were involved in terrorism to the extent required such that they presented a reasonable possibility of danger".

It ruled that the Ajouris could be expelled from their home in the Iskar refugee camp in Nablus to the Gaza Strip for two years.

But the judges overturned an expulsion order against Abdel Nasser Asidi, the brother a militant accused of two West Bank ambushes which killed 19 Israelis.

Burden of proof

In handing down the ruling, Chief Justice Aharon Barak said Israel could only expel a suspected militant's relative if they presented a real security threat.

Legal experts say the decision means Israel cannot expel people merely to deter future attacks, and that the army will have to provide proof of some form of involvement before it can issue expulsion orders.

"The court ruled with a loud voice that deterrence cannot be a cause to take steps. This is a very, very positive point," said the Ajouris' lawyer Leah Tzemel.

The decision by the Israeli army to start trying to expel relatives in an effort to put pressure on militants was taken in July, and was accompanied by the destruction of family homes.

The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"There has been no trial and no convictions"

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See also:

13 Aug 02 | Middle East
20 Jul 02 | Middle East
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20 Jun 02 | Middle East
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