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Archive for the ‘West Bank’ Category

Palestinians condemn Israeli order:

AlJazeeraEnglish April 12, 2010A new Israeli military policy could result in the eviction of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank. They even risk being jailed.

Amendments to the existing 1969 order on preventing infiltration could apply to Palestinians living in the West Bank without official ID cards issued by Israel.

The Israeli army says the order was designed to “facilitate a process of judicial review of the extradition of illegal residents in the region”.

But Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations have condemned the order.

Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh reports from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. (13 April 2010)

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Israel issues a mass deportation order in West Bank

Sunday, 11 April 2010 10:35

Israel, April 11, (Pal Telegraph) A new military order aimed at preventing infiltration will come into force this week, enabling the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, or their indictment on charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years.

When the order comes into effect, tens of thousands of Palestinians will automatically become criminal offenders liable to be severely punished.

Given the security authorities’ actions over the past decade, the first Palestinians likely to be targeted under the new rules will be those whose ID cards bear home addresses in the Gaza Strip – people born in Gaza and their West Bank-born children – or those born in the West Bank or abroad who for various reasons lost their residency status. Also likely to be targeted are foreign-born spouses of Palestinians.

Until now, Israeli civil courts have occasionally prevented the expulsion of these three groups from the West Bank. The new order, however, puts them under the sole jurisdiction of Israeli military courts.

The new order defines anyone who enters the West Bank illegally as an infiltrator, as well as “a person who is present in the area and does not lawfully hold a permit.” The order takes the original 1969 definition of infiltrator to the extreme, as the term originally applied only to those illegally staying in Israel after having passed through countries then classified as enemy states – Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

The order’s language is both general and ambiguous, stipulating that the term infiltrator will also be applied to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, citizens of countries with which Israel has friendly ties (such as the United States) and Israeli citizens, whether Arab or Jewish. All this depends on the judgment of Israel Defense Forces commanders in the field.

The new guidelines are expected to clamp down on protests in the West Bank.

The Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual was the first Israeli human rights to issue warnings against the order, signed six months ago by then-commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria Area Gadi Shamni.

Two weeks ago, Hamoked director Dalia Kerstein sent GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi a request to delay the order, given “the dramatic change it causes in relation to the human rights of a tremendous number of people.”

According to the provisions, “a person is presumed to be an infiltrator if he is present in the area without a document or permit which attest to his lawful presence in the area without reasonable justification.” Such documentation, it says, must be “issued by the commander of IDF forces in the Judea and Samaria area or someone acting on his behalf.”

The instructions, however, are unclear over whether the permits referred to are those currently in force, or also refer to new permits that military commanders might issue in the future. The provision are also unclear about the status of bearers of West Bank residency cards, and disregards the existence of the Palestinian Authority and the agreements Israel signed with it and the PLO.

The order stipulates that if a commander discovers that an infiltrator has recently entered a given area, he “may order his deportation before 72 hours elapse from the time he is served the written deportation order, provided the infiltrator is deported to the country or area from whence he infiltrated.”

The order also allows for criminal proceedings against suspected infiltrators that could produce sentences of up to seven years. Individuals able to prove that they entered the West Bank legally but without permission to remain there will also be tried, on charges carrying a maximum sentence of three years. (According to current Israeli law, illegal residents typically receive one-year sentences.)

The new provision also allow the IDF commander in the area to require that the infiltrator pay for the cost of his own detention, custody and expulsion, up to a total of NIS 7,500.

Currently, Palestinians need special permits to enter areas near the separation fence, even if their homes are there, and Palestinians have long been barred from the Jordan Valley without special authorization. Until 2009, East Jerusalemites needed permission to enter Area A, territory under full PA control.

The fear that Palestinians with Gaza addresses will be the first to be targeted by this order is based on measures that Israel has taken in recent years to curtail their right to live, work, study or even visit the West Bank. These measures violated the Oslo Accords.

According to a decision by the West Bank commander that was not backed by military legislation, since 2007, Palestinians with Gaza addresses must request a permit to stay in the West Bank. Since 2000, they have been defined as illegal sojourners if they have Gaza addresses, as if they were citizens of a foreign state. Many of them have been deported to Gaza, including those born in the West Bank.

One group expected to be particularly harmed by the new rules are Palestinians who moved to the West Bank under family reunification provisions, which Israel stopped granting for several years.

In 2007, amid a number of Hamoked petitions and as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, tens of thousands of people received Palestinian residency cards. The PA distributed the cards, but Israel had exclusive control over who could receive them. Thousands of Palestinians, however, remained classified as “illegal sojourners,” including many who are not citizens of any other country.

The new order is the latest step by the Israeli government in recent years to require permits that limit the freedom of movement and residency previously conferred by Palestinian ID cards. The new regulations are particularly sweeping, allowing for criminal measures and the mass expulsion of people from their homes.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in response, “The amendments to the order on preventing infiltration, signed by GOC Central Command, were issued as part of a series of manifests, orders and appointments in Judea and Samaria, in Hebrew and Arabic as required, and will be posted in the offices of the Civil Administration and military courts’ defense attorneys in Judea and Samaria. The IDF is ready to implement the order, which is not intended to apply to Israelis, but to illegal sojourners in Judea and Samaria.”

By: Amira Hass

Source: Haaretz

Website: http://www.haaretz.com

43 b Sleepless Gaza Jerusalem.divx:

SleeplessinGaza April 12, 2010 — Day 43 b: Special Edition from Jerusalem & Ramallah: So what is this new Israeli military law about? Learn who can be affected and how from Palestine Radio journalist Mohammad Abed Rabbo who has studied the law and its possible consequences. The law gives the occupation forces illegal powers that people are now reminded of the 1948 catastrophe! Anyone without an Israeli permit to reside in the West Bank is deemed an “infiltrator” and Israel can either imprison them up to 7 years or deport them! The law allows Israel’s occupation forces to arrest and deport foreigners including the American and European spouses of Palestinians living in the West Bank or even Israelis who may go to the West Bank to support Palestinians or protest against the Wall for example! In other words, the Palestinian Authority has lost what it gained through Oslo & Madrid in jurisdiction on the areas it controls! Ashira hears that PLO Leader Nabil Shaath is giving the foreign and Arab diplomats a “no media allowed” briefing, so she heads to Ramallah and crashes on it. Meet Father Manuel Musallam, the retired priest who was in charge of Gaza for 14 years. 72-year-old father Manuel is originally from Ramallah but holds a Gaza ID card. He lives with his sister at their family home and fears he will be deported back to Gaza and be separated from his sister and home! What is the South African top diplomat reminded of by the new law? Nabil Shaath describes the military law as a major act of terror and ethnic cleansing. So what will he do if the Israelis deport him to Gaza and his wife to Nablus? He accepts an Israeli prison before he would allow that to happen!

43 a Sleepless Gaza Jerusalem.divx:

SleeplessinGaza — April 12, 2010 — April 12, 2010: Day 43 a: Ashira goes to visit In’am to check on her and her family in light of a new military law that can make their life even more miserable than it already is. This family has a permit to sleep at their home in Jerusalem and drive on the road from their home to the checkpoint with the West Bank, ONLY! So they can’t visit the store next door, they have to travel to the West Bank, buy their groceries, travel back into their Jerusalem home without getting out of the car! How long does it take In’am to visit her mother who lives 2 minutes away? Farah is shocked at how there are two separate protests for prisoners in Gaza. Fateh was holding a protest inside of the Red Cross Headquarters, their weekly sit-in for prisoners, and Hamas called for a rally outside the same place! Meet families of prisoners on both sides including Um Ahmad whose husband now has several grandchildren that he has never met! Families of Gazan Prisoners, around 11,000, have not been able to visit their loved ones for years.”

Part a

Updated April 13, 2010 11:35 A.M. EST

Analysis: “Ethnic Cleansing By Any Other Name” by Yousef Munayyer
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Palestine Center Brief No. 195 (13 April 2010)

By Yousef Munayyer

Background

The West Bank has been occupied by Israel since 1967. Israel maintains authoritative jurisdiction over the happenings in the West Bank via its military apparatus. Decisions governing the simplest aspects of Palestinian life, from traveling from one area to another to building a home, ultimately lie under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Military’s High Command in the West Bank. In October of 2009, amendments were made to military orders governing the legitimate presence of persons in Occupied Palestinian Territory. The changes, effective six months after the signing of the orders, are beginning to take effect. It is important to note that Palestinians are not in control of the Palestinian population registry. Israel maintains strict control over this database and continues to do so. It is because of this that Israeli authorities can determine the residencies of Palestinians and only through the Israelis can the Palestinian Authority issue identification documents.

Changes in Israeli Military Orders

The main changes come as amendments to the Israeli Military Order No. 329 titled “Order Regarding Prevention of Infiltration” which was signed into effect two years after the occupation began in 1969. This order defines so-called “infiltrators” as persons who “enter the Area knowingly and unlawfully having been present in the east bank of the Jordan, Syria, Egypt or Lebanon.” In 1969, prior to peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, infiltrators as defined by this order were persons entering the West Bank from enemy states. The amendment to this order, order number 1650, signed in late 2009 changes this definition to “a person who entered the Area unlawfully following the effective date, or a person who is present in the Area and does not lawfully hold a permit.” [emphasis added]

The original order also defines a “resident of the Area” as a “person whose permanent residence is in the Area.” The new order eliminates this definition, apparently leaving determination of residency in the hands of military commanders.

Further, the original order states that a person that is present in the West Bank without documentation of their residency bears the burden of proving that he did not infiltrate the area. The amendment changes this language significantly and simply states that any person present in the West Bank without a document or permit is “presumed to be an infiltrator.” The amendment adds that a lawful document or permit is only one that is issued by the commander of the Israeli Military in the West bank or someone acting on his behalf.

Changes have also been made to the punishments levied against those considered so-called “infiltrators”. The amendments to the order now specify that deportation orders can be carried out as early as 72 hours from the issuance of the order and in some cases even sooner. Further, the Palestinians targeted for deportation will be held liable for the expenses of their deportation up to 7,500 NIS. Under the amendment, a military commander is permitted to seize monies held by the deportee to cover the expenses.

The section of the order on the sentencing of an alleged “infiltrator” was also modified. The old statute condemned an “infiltrator” to “imprisonment of fifteen years or a fine of 10,000 Israeli Lira or both”. The new order seems to condemn Palestinians to imprisonment regardless of their innocence. Read closely the section below:

A. “The infiltrator shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of seven years.
B. The provisions of Subsection (A) notwithstanding, where an infiltrator has proven his entry into the area was lawful – he shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three years”

A second amendment issued at the same time, Order No. 1649, establishes a committee to review deportation orders. However, hearings before this committee are for those held in custody in the process of deportation and the order stipulates that they be allowed a hearing before the committee no later than eight days from the issuance of the deportation order. The obvious problem which arises is that when deportation orders are executable in 72 hours, a Palestinian may be deported before they have a chance to have a hearing.

The collective effects of the changes made by the new orders yields an increased ambiguity that can be dangerously exploited to target Palestinians and others in the West Bank.

Implications for Palestinians Residing in the West Bank

The changes made to these orders may lead to sweeping changes in the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank. Effectively, this order makes every resident of the West Bank subject to treatment as an alleged “infiltrator” and prosecution/deportation under this order for simply being unable to produce identification on the spot or not having the ambiguously defined and potentially unattainable identification mentioned in the amendments.

Two particular Palestinian communities will face increased difficulties because of these changes: Palestinians with Gaza Residencies and Palestinians with East Jerusalem Residencies.

Palestinians from Gaza – Palestinians which are either born in Gaza or maintain permanent residence in Gaza but reside in the West Bank are now subject to prosecution/deportation under this new order. This is a clear violation of the Oslo Accord agreements which stipulated that Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank would be treated as one nation and also a violation of international law which treats the peoples of the West Bank and Gaza as one nation under a single occupation. While it is unclear exactly how many Palestinians from Gaza are currently living in the West Bank, it is certain that this number is in the tens of thousands and possibly higher. This number has also increased in recent years as the prosperity gap between the West Bank and Gaza widened due to an Israeli siege leading many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who were able to come to the West Bank to do so. Aside from families which may have moved from Gaza to the West Bank, many married couples in which one spouse is a resident of Gaza will face forced separation because of the change to this order. Students who have residency in Gaza but study in the West Bank are also vulnerable to prosecution/deportation under this order. While cases like this are not new, this new order will certainly expedite separation and make legal objections far more difficult, placing an insurmountable burden of proof upon Palestinians for the “crime” of living on their land.

Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs – Another group that may face difficulties because of this order are Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs. Palestinians who reside in the territory that Israel refers to as East Jerusalem number approximately 270,000. These Palestinians have Israeli issued residency cards, which gives them a status between Palestinian Citizens of Israel and Palestinian residents of the West Bank. In an attempt to annex Jerusalem’s geography without its demography, Israel permits these Palestinians residency without citizenship. Should Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs be present in the West Bank where they may have numerous family members as well as commercial ties, they too may be treated as infiltrators under this ambiguous order. It is conceivable that Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs prosecuted under this category may eventually lose their residency rights as a result of prolonged incarceration preventing the renewal of their residency.

Implications for Foreign Born Residents in the West Bank

Another category which may be targeted under the changes to this order are foreign born residents of the West Bank. People in this category are most often the spouses of native born Palestinians who reside with their families in the West Bank. A Palestinian born in Jordan, for example, who married a West Bank Palestinian will not have an Israeli issued ID proving residency in the West Bank and will therefore be subject to prosecution/ deportation under these changes.

Implications for Foreign Born visitors in West Bank

The change in definition of “infiltrator” in the old order now seems to allow for the deportation of persons who are foreign born visitors in the West Bank as “infiltrators”. Citizens of foreign countries, like the United States or the United Kingdom for example, who enter into Israel without permission to be in the West Bank can be deported. While this is not expressly stated, it is the clear outcome of the sum of the policies in place. This may be part of an ongoing Israeli effort to silence dissent and crack down on international solidarity members and activists who travel to Palestinian areas to support protests and rallies often bringing with them the eyes of the outside world. The broad language in these orders basically allow the military regime that governs the occupied West Bank to arbitrarily deport or incarcerate nearly anyone present in the area.

In sum, the changes to these orders create a dangerous ambiguity with little protection for the most vulnerable under occupation: the Palestinians. Increasingly, Palestinians find themselves in the cross hairs of policies designed to force them off their land. It is important to keep in mind that in recent years, Israel’s altering of residency policy in Jerusalem has led to a dramatic spike in residency revocations. It happened in the mid-1990s and it culminated in 2008 with a record high 4,800 residency revocations of Palestinians in Jerusalem. There is little doubt that Israel has both the motive and the tendency to use these types of policies as tools for ethnic cleansing. With such ambiguity in these orders, a history of ethnic cleansing and the capacity to carry out such horrific acts, the world should be very wary of what is happening in the Israeli occupied West Bank where Israel is charged under international law with the protection of the native population and not its endangerment. At a time when the United States and the International community have asked Israel to do more to restart peace negotiations, this is a clear and significant step in the opposite direction.

Yousef Munayyer is Executive Director of the Palestine Center. This policy brief may be used without permission but with proper attribution to the Center.

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Beit Jala and Hebron:

justicewheels April 11, 2010 — Another day in this apartheid system ruling over the holy land. Representing the popular committee against the wall and settlements in Beit Sahour, we joined with our friends in Beit Jala, a town which lost nearly half its land to Israeli Jewish-only colonial settlements over the past four decades. Now town residents are prevented from getting to additional areas near the apartheid walls and bypass roads (all to serve illegal Jewish colonies on Palestinian land). The weekly Sunday demonstration proceeded as expected: soldiers stretching barbed wire across the road, activists speaking to those present (including soldiers) in Arabic, English, and Hebrew. There was a poignant moment when a young German girl tried to speak to a soldier who even refused to look her in the eye.

We then drove to Hebron to show a visiting teacher from Denverwhat it is like to have 400 racist settlers ruin life for 150,000 Palestinians. The settlers took over some buildings, built a few other sites and make life in this largest Palestinian city hell for its inhabitants (Hebron is largest now because cities like Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Jaffa have had much of their Palestinain population ethnically cleansed). I am trying to get a steadier hand and better editing for youtube videos of these things. Below is my latest attempt which I end by a more mundane segment showing poor children who we took to a park ( they have not been to a park for 2 years). We fed them Knaffa (Palestinian dessert) at that time but I did not have my camera then so I show what Knaffa looks like in Bethlehem with our small group that visited Hebron earlier.

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Bil’in 9.4.2010.mov:

davidreeb April 09, 2010Bil’in Friday April 9th 2010 demonstration against the separation fence [Apartheid Wall] cutting through the village’s land, with the participation of Palestinian, Israeli and international demonstrators. Shows Bil’in photographer Haytham Al Katib being taken away by soldiers.

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Bilin night raid 12.09.09 by haitham al katib:

“Bil’in night raid 12.09.09

Shortly after 2pm, the Israeli occupation forces invaded the village of Bil’in from two different directions once again. They raided two houses in an attempt to arrest Mohammed Ahmed Yasseen (age 21), and Yasseen Mohammed Yasseen (age 21). In the first house soldiers were quite aggressive during their operation. Neither of the wanted men was home at the time.

At the second house, the soldiers, disguised with face masks as usual, met a lot of resistance from Palestinian and international activists who were standing in their way and filming the event. As they did not find their victim, they eventually retreated to the four waiting Jeeps, arresting one international activist from Great Britain on their way. Yet, according to their conversation in Hebrew, they planned to release him a little further on their way toward the Apartheid Wall. He was indeed released a few minutes later before they exited through the Wall.

This has been the second night raid this week. It seems that the Israeli forces are stepping up their night raids again in Bil’in.”

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bilin demo 11 09 09 by haitham al katib:

“Bil’in demo 11.09.09

Bil’in residents and Israeli and international activists once again held their weekly demonstration today. Despite lots of tear gas being fired by the Israeli forces, the protesters stood their ground. They displayed huge banners ‘We Want Peace’ in Arabic, Hebrew, and English while chanting. One demonstrator in a wheelchair was heavily tear-gased at some point and another suffered from skin burns from the gas.

Once some of the protesters had succeeded in pulling the barbed-wired inner gate open passing through it toward the Apartheid Wall, half a dozen soldiers stormed through the door in the Wall ready to arrest whoever was in the open space. However, tear gas drove them back while the protesters in the front lines retreated behind the gate. The occupation forces remained in a position of alert but no arrests were made. As the demonstrators returned to the village, the Israeli forces heavily tear-gased the house closest to the Wall where a Palestinian man was sitting watching the unfolding event.

In spite of the army’s violent response to these nonviolent demonstrations and the ongoing intimidating night raids in Bil’in, the weekly demonstration continues to be held without fail. The sense of resistance to the military occupation is deeply ingrained in the people of this village. They have been resisting since the construction of the Wall five years ago, and they are determined to continue their struggle in spite of all odds.

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Ras Atiya Checkpoint:

“The checkpoint of Ras Atiya separates the villages in the seam line enclave of Ras A-Tira from the rest of the West Bank. At 6:30 AM a truck with a permit to transport building materials arrives at the checkpoint. The truck is loaded with building stones. The soldiers detain the truck for long hours and eventually force the truck owner to unload the truck at the checkpoint. The truck owner then has to pay for reloading the truck.”

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