Most Arab rioters in Israel are citizens thanks to family reunification law

The Mixed Cities Forum found that some 63% of the Arabs indicted for the violence last May had at least one parent hailing from the Palestinian Authority. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The majority of Arab Israeli citizens who rioted in two mixed cities during last May’s Operation Guardian of the walls came from families that benefited from Israel’s family reunification law, Maariv reported Sunday.

A study carried out by the Mixed Cities Forum of over 120 police reports and court files found that about 60% of the rioters arrested on suspicion of injuring Jewish residents or security forces in Lod and Ramle were first-degree relatives of one Israeli-Arab and one Palestinian parent. The number rose to 63% when it came to indictments.

These include some of the most severe incidents recorded during the violent protests. All three Arabs charged with the murder of Yigal Yehoshua, one of two Jews killed in the riots, are children of a Palestinian mother or father. Three terrorist brothers whose mother is Palestinian prepared dozens of Molotov cocktails and joined a group that firebombed Jewish apartments in Lod. Another rioter, also the son of a Palestinian mother, is being charged with attempted murder for firing a pistol at a medical first responder, hitting him in the leg.

The Forum also examined the social media accounts of the wider family to see how much influence Palestinian nationalism had on the views of the criminals.

According to journalist Kalman Liebskind, who authored the report, it is almost a given that children of such marriages will be predisposed to having sympathy for the Palestinian cause and view their country of citizenship as the enemy. As expected, they spend time with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins in the Palestinian Authority.

The family reunification law prevents the automatic granting of Israeli citizenship or residency to Palestinians from either Gaza or Judea and Samaria who marry Israeli citizens. However, there are exceptions built into the law, allowing it on a case-by-case basis, usually on humanitarian grounds, such as marriage and to allow minors to live with their parents.

The reasoning behind the law is that this segment of the population poses a potential security risk, as they hail from areas that are in ongoing conflict with the Jewish state. Human rights organizations and radical leftists have long dismissed the fear of terror attacks emanating from this demographic and have accused Israel of enacting the law out of racism and the desire to maintain a Jewish majority in the state.

The law must be renewed on an annual basis, which the Knesset has done every year since its passage in 2003 – until 2021. In last July’s vote, in order to embarrass the government, the right-wing opposition voted against its extension although it unequivocally believes in its necessity on security grounds. Due to the opposition of extreme leftists and Arab members of the coalition, it did not have the necessary votes and the law officially expired.

The Interior Ministry under Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) has nevertheless denied most requests for family reunification since then, leading to an appeal to the Supreme Court against the government’s enforcement of an officially obsolete law. Earlier this month, a new version of the law passed its first reading in the Knesset. It is now being prepared in the House Committee for its second and third readings, but it is unknown whether the Opposition will support it when it comes time for the decisive votes.

The Mixed Cities Forum was established after the May riots, which took place mainly in mixed Arab-Jewish cities. Its aim is to improve security for Jews in their home locales in light of the nationalistic violence they experienced when their Arab neighbors poured into the streets and went on rampages for days, until the authorities finally gained control of the situation. It also works to prepare for the next round of civil conflict, which the Jewish residents feel is only a matter of “when” and not “if.”