Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades terrorists (illustration)
Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades terrorists (illustration)Ahmad Khateib/Flash 90

Since the Second Intifada, more than 100 terrorists have used legal residency status gained through Israel’s family unification law to attack Israelis, a security establishment official revealed to a Knesset committee on Wednesday. The official also noted that such residents are playing an increasing active role in the wave of terror attacks that has left dozens of Israelis dead and hundreds more wounded since last September.

The Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, chaired by former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter (Likud), held a hearing on Wednesday regarding the extension of an emergency provision to Israel’s Family Unification Law.

The provision, the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which was first enacted in 2003 at the height of the Second Intifada, restricts the ability of residents of the Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and other countries considered hotbeds of terrorism, to automatically gain legal status in Israel under the family unification law.

The family unification law grants automatic legal status to foreign nationals who marry Israeli citizens.

While the Supreme Court banned the provision to the law from being permanently added, the Knesset has voted to extend the temporary act as an emergency measure every year since 2004.

Ahead of this year’s vote to extend the act, a joint hearing of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee and Internal Affairs Committee heard testimony from experts and security officials on the effects of the provision.

Attorney Noam Kehan testified to the hearing that more than 12,500 people had applied for legal status under the family reunification law. Under the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, residents of the Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Syria, and other countries singled out by the law can apply for residency or citizenship, but must be approved by both the Interior Ministry and IDF officials.

An official from the Shin Bet security agency noted that 104 citizens or legal residents who had been brought into Israel under the family reunification law had committed acts of terrorism from 2001 to 2016. Of those 104, 17 had married Israeli citizens, while 87 were relatives of those who had married Israelis.

The Shin Bet official also noted that residents brought into Israel under the family reunification law were playing an increasing role in terrorism. He noted that 73% of terrorists with Israeli citizenship who had committed acts of terror against Israelis since the beginning of the terror wave last September were brought in as part of family reunifications.

Of the 104 terrorists who entered Israel in this manner, 30 had committed terror attacks over the past nine months. He also noted they were responsible for 13% of all terror attacks in the recent terror wave.