Israel declares West Bank residents 'illegal'

Issue 

On April 11, the Hamoked Center for the Defence of the Individual (HCDI) released a statement headlined: "A new military order defines all residents of the West Bank as 'infiltrators' who may be jailed and deported."

The order requires all residents of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank (including native-born ones) to get Israeli Defense Force-issued permits.

Order No. 1650 (Prevention of Infiltration) and Order No. 1649 (Security Provisions) were issued in October 2009 as amendments to a 1969 Order No. 329 (Order regarding Prevention of Infiltration) declaring "infiltrator" state enemies from Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon would be imprisoned and/or deported.

Potentially, HCDI said, the IDF may now "empty the West Bank of almost all its Palestinian inhabitants".

The order was made quietly, raising concerns about secret implementation "without public debate or judicial review". The term "infiltrator" was substantively redefined, applying it "to anyone [in] the West Bank without an Israeli permit".

It refers to "person(s) who entered the Area [West Bank] unlawfully", or who do "not lawfully hold a permit".

Effective April 13, anyone without an IDF-issued permit is "presumed to be an infiltrator".

Up to now, with few exceptions, Palestinians didn't need a permit. That's changed, and so has their residency status.

The HCDI explained the order's language is broad and vague, giving the military wide discretion and no valid permit definition is given.

It also violates the Fourth Geneva Convention's Article 49, which prohibits "Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country ..."

Under the order, the military may prosecute, imprison, and/or deport anyone called an "infiltrator" — without judicial review. Deportations may be executed within 72 hours of order issuances or sooner, and those affected may be imprisoned until deported.

HCDI said individuals first affected may be Palestinians that Israel wishes to transfer to Gaza, even if they were born in the West Bank or had legally relocated there.
Foreign passport-holding spouses of West Bank residents abroad are likely to be targeted. HCDI said: "This category includes tens of thousands of individuals."

Foreign nationals deemed "infiltrators" may be jailed for up to seven years.

Potentially, HCDI said, the entire Palestinian West Bank population is vulnerable, including legitimate East Jerusalem residents.

Other Israeli human rights groups that have condemned the new military order include B'Tselem, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Rabbis for Human Rights.

Those most at risk include: those who have ID cards showing Gaza their birthplace; those born in the West Bank or abroad who lost their residency status; Palestinians unable to prove their legitimate status; foreign-born spouses of Palestinians; and anyone else Israel chooses to target for any reason.

In the past, Israeli civil courts prevented some deportations. Military courts now have sole jurisdiction.

East Jerusalem Palestinians are also affected, as well as citizens of allied countries and Israeli citizens, Arab or Jew. Military commanders have sole discretion. The potential fallout may be catastrophic if this order is implemented in full.

The IDF Spokesman's Office said: "The IDF is ready to implement the order, which is not intended to apply to Israelis, but to illegal 'sojourners' [meaning thousands of Palestinians] in Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank]."

[Abridged from PalestineChronicle.com. Visit Stephen Lendman's blog at Sjlendman.blogspot.com. He can be contacted at .]

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