Rights Groups Challenge Military Order against West Bank Infiltrators
The new order: an Israeli demand that all residents of the West Bank including those who were born there and live in the Palestinian Authority obtain an Israeli issued permit
HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual and nine other human rights organizations urgently appealed to the minister of defense this morning with a demand to delay the entry into force of two military orders which will turn all residents of the West Bank into criminals who may be imprisoned for up to seven years or deported from the area.
Tue., April 13, 2010: the Order regarding Prevention of Infiltration (Amendment No. 2) and the Order regarding Security Provisions (Amendment No. 112) are to enter into effect. The orders, signed by the previous GOC Central Command, Gadi Shamni but not revealed, are worded so broadly such as theoretically allowing the military to empty the West Bank of almost all its Palestinian inhabitants. Despite the severe ramifications of the orders, the authorities did not publicize their existence among the Palestinian population as required, which raises grave concerns that they intended to pass them secretly without public debate or judicial review.
The orders substantively change the definition of “infiltrator” and in effect apply it to anyone who is present in the West Bank without an Israeli permit. The orders do not define what Israel considers a valid permit. The vast majority of people now living in the West Bank have never been required to hold any sort of permit to be present therein.
The military will be able to prosecute and deport any Palestinian defined as infiltrator in stark contradiction to the Geneva Convention. There is a possibility that some of the deportees will not be given an opportunity for a hearing before being removed from the West Bank as, according to the orders, the deportation may be executed within 72 hours whereas it is possible to delay bringing a person before the appeals committee for up to eight days from issuance of a deportation order.
In their letter to the minister of defense, the organizations stated that based on Israel’s current policy, the orders are expected to be initially used against Palestinian residents of the West Bank whom Israel wishes to transfer to the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that many of them were born in the West Bank or lawfully relocated thereto. Israel is further expected to use the orders to deport foreign passport holding spouses of West Bankers abroad. This category includes tens of thousands of individuals. However, the definition of “infiltrator” which exposes a person to a prison term of three to seven years could, in principle, be applied to any person the military commander wishes ill, including Israeli and international citizens who are present in the West Bank.
The organizations demanded the minister of defense delay the entry into effect of the orders pending a serious and comprehensive debate thereof and announced that they will fight the draconian legislation by any means.
The signatory organizations: HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Bimkom, B’Tselem, Gisha, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din, Adalah, Rabbis for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights