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Monday, 9 September, 2002, 21:44 GMT 22:44 UK
Arab Israeli stripped of citizenship
Intisar Ajouri (right), sister of suspected militant, was expelled last week
Israel has begun targeting suspected militants' relatives
An Arab Israeli accused of helping the Palestinian militant group Hamas to launch suicide attacks has been stripped of his citizenship.

The move by the Israeli Interior Ministry is the first of its kind in the history of the Jewish state.

It follows other measures to try to deter suicide bombings in the two-year Palestinian uprising, including the expulsion of Palestinians and the demolition of the homes of suicide bombers' families.


I believe we must act seriously against someone who acts against the security of the state

Interior Minister Eli Yishai

A special warrant officially revoking the citizenship of Nahad Abu Kishaq, currently detained in Shikma prison, was signed on Monday.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced last month that he was considering revoking the citizenship or residency rights of Mr Abu Kishaq and two others arrested with him accused of suicide bombings.

He said their status had made it easier for them to carry out attacks because their blue Israeli identity cards enabled them to move about the country freely.

According to Israeli security officials, Nahad Abu Kishaq was a central figure in Hamas whose actions led to the deaths of Israeli civilians in suicide bombings in the past two years.

A ministry spokesman said the order was signed after Mr Kishaq failed to appeal against the annulment of his citizenship within a 30-day period.

Policy criticised

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) condemned the decision as violating basic human rights.

"This is another step in (minister) Yishai's constant and discriminatory policy toward Israeli Arabs," an ACRI spokesman was quoted as saying by the daily Ha'aretz newspaper.

The interior ministry is also considering revoking the citizenship of three other Arab Israelis.

Arabs account for nearly a fifth of the total Israeli population of more than six million.

Last week, the brother and sister of a Palestinian suspected of organising suicide bombings in Israel were expelled from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.

This followed a landmark ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court upholding an order issued last month by a military court.

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


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