Israeli High Court to hear petition challenging refusal to update addresses in the Palestinian population registry and the forced removal of West Bank residents to Gaza on the basis of old addresses
• According to the Oslo Accords, control of the Palestinian population registry was to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority. However, Israel continues to control the registry and since 2000, has not allowed updates to be made to it.
• This policy means that some 35,000 Palestinians, who for many years have lived in the West Bank, where they have jobs and homes, are defined by Israel as criminals who at any moment may find themselves forcefully removed to the Gaza Strip. This is true even though they have been living in the West Bank for many years, or in some cases were even born there.
Mon., April 4, 2011 – On Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at 9 am, Israel’s High Court will hear a petition submitted by HaMoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual along with Gisha and 14 other human rights organizations. The petition challenges the forced removal of Palestinians from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip solely on the basis of their address as it appears in the Palestinian population registry controlled by Israel.
The petition concerns Palestinians who have been living in the West Bank for years, sometimes for over a decade, and who established households and families there. Israel refuses to update their addresses in the population registry, turning them into "illegal aliens" in their own homes. Approximately 2,500 of this group were even born in the West Bank. The Israeli policy means that people can be arrested and taken by force from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, severing them from their homes, livelihoods and families. As a result, thousands of people in the West Bank live in constant fear of expulsion – fearing everyday trips to the grocery store, school, and work because of the "crime" of having an outdated address.
The petition calls for an immediate end to the illegal practice of forced removals to Gaza and for residents’ addresses to be updated in the population registry. The petitioners state that the present policy violates both Israeli and international law.
A hearing on an additional petition, also filed by the organizations, is also scheduled to be held at the High Court on the same day. The petition concerns a procedure that allows only orphans, elderly or chronically ill people to move to the West Bank, and of them, only those who meet strict criteria defined by the security establishment. This procedure, the organizations state, serves to permanently separate the two parts of the Occupied Territory.
The organizations participating in the petitions: HaMoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Addameer – Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Damir Institution for Human Rights, Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, MachsomWatch – Women Against Occupation and for Human Rights, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights.