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Israel High Court Blocks Expulsion of Palestinians - 2002-08-13

Israel's Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the expulsion of relatives of Palestinian militants from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government has argued the expulsions are necessary to deter future attacks against Israelis.

The Supreme Court Tuesday gave the government 15 days to explain why the expulsions are necessary and should be permitted to go ahead.

The decision comes after three Palestinians appealed a military tribunal order, issued on Monday, that they be expelled to the Gaza Strip.

The government has begun targeting family members of Palestinian militants accused of attacks against Israelis.

The military has stepped up the demolition of family homes of suspected militants. Early Tuesday, the army demolished the family homes of two suspected militants in the southern portion of the West Bank, bringing to at least 20 the number of homes destroyed in the past month.

And the government recently said it would begin deporting family members of militants as well. The government argues it has no choice but to take such drastic measures in order to deter future attacks. Palestinians and human rights groups say the measures constitute collective punishment and are in violation of international law.

In another development, the Israeli government plans to indict a popular leader of the Palestinian uprising, or intifada, on various charges of inciting and orchestrating attacks against Israelis.

Marwan Barghouti, the West Bank chief of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, became known for leading street protests and for his fiery rhetoric in support of the intifada, which began almost two years ago. He was arrested on April 15 and is to appear Wednesday morning in a Tel Aviv civilian court.