The unanimous decision endorsed the forced removal of Intisar and Kifah Ajouri, sister and brother of Ali Ajouri, a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades who allegedly oversaw a suicide bombing operation. The ruling allows Israel to expel the Ajouris from the West Bank and relocate them to the Gaza Strip.
Israeli lawyers said the two had advance knowledge of a July bombing that killed five in Tel Aviv and that Intisar Ajouri sewed explosives belts for the suicide attack.
The Israeli government has adopted the eviction policy saying it would serve as a deterrent against future suicide attacks.
While the nine-member court allowed the two expulsions, it rejected a third case involving Abdel Nasser Asidi, brother of a Hamas militant accused of involvement in two bus ambushes in the West Bank. The court said it would only endorse the forced removal if the Israeli government proved the suspects posed a security risk.
“One cannot assign the residence of [expel] an innocent relative who does not present a danger, even if it is proved that assigning his residence may deter others from carrying out terrorist acts,” Chief Justice Aharon Barak wrote.
Human rights advocates and Palestinian officials immediately denounced the ruling. Palestinian minister Saeb Erekat said the decision amounted to collective punishment, a move that is banned by the Geneva Conventions.
“It is definitely a war crime,” Erekat told reporters. “We are considering asking the U.N. Security Council to convene over this.”
Chief Justice Barak said the court was trying to balance the need for security with the need to protect human rights.
“In this balance, human rights cannot receive complete protection as if there were no terror, and state security cannot receive complete protection, as if there were no human rights,” Barak wrote.