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13.4.10

New Israeli Military Orders Expelling West Bank Palestinians

Tomorrow, 13 April 2010, two new Israeli military orders will come into effect, potentially turning all West Bank residents into “infiltrators”.
 
Order No. 1650 regarding Prevention of Infiltration and Order No. 1649 regarding Security Provisions were issued in October 2009 as amendments to an old military order (1969) which declared “infiltrators” coming from Jordan, Syria, Egypt or Lebanon (the so-called “enemy states” at the time of the issuance of the order) liable to imprisonment and deportation.

The new orders define an “infiltrator” in such generic terms that virtually any person currently present in the West Bank could potentially fall under that definition and consequently incur criminal liability and/or be subject to deportation.
 
An “infiltrator” is defined as “a person who entered the Area unlawfully” or “a person who is present in the Area and does not lawfully hold a permit”. The ‘Area’ refers to the occupied West Bank.
 
Pursuant to Military order No. 1650 any person who unlawfully entered the area shall be sentenced to seven years imprisonment, whereas an individual who has lawfully entered the area but does not “hold a permit” shall be sentenced to three years imprisonment.
 
Moreover, regardless of whether the “infiltrator” is charged with an offence under the Order or not, the military commander may order the deportation of the person from the area; the issuance of the deportation order shall be considered as an arrest order and serve as the “legal source for holding such infiltrator in custody pending his deportation”. The deportation can be executed 72 hours after the order, and in some cases even sooner.
 
As a consequence of the dramatic expansion and ambiguity of the new definition of “infiltrator” the Order not applies to people coming from so-called “enemy states”, as in the past; it now applies to every Palestinian, both those who were born in the West Bank and those who lawfully moved to it, for instance from Gaza or from abroad.
 
The new regulation establishes that every person without a document or permit is “presumed to be an infiltrator”. According to Order 1650 the permit is a document issued by the military commander, or a person appointed by him in accordance with security legislation, or by Israeli authorities under the Entry into Israel Law, 5712-1952. As has been highlighted by Hamoked
 
 
Center for the Defence of the Individual, the broadness of the definition suggests that the Order applies to every person currently present in the West Bank regardless of his status, identity, or nationality.
 
In fact over the past number of years, thousands of applications made by persons living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since decades in accordance with the Interim Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority or by Palestinians seeking family reunification have been illegally “frozen” by the Israeli authorities who refused to grant them status in the oPt.
 
Additionally, since 1967 thousands of Palestinians moved to the West Bank from the Gaza Strip  and they were never required to have a written permit, as there was no requirement under the military legislation to hold a written permit.
 
It appears that pursuant to the new military orders thousands of residents in the West Bank will be potentially subject to immediate deportation.
 
Such a practice would constitute a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and in particular of Article 49, which prohibits any kind of forcible transfer as well as the deportation of protected persons (civilians) from the occupied territory.
 
It must also be noted that pursuant to military order No. 1649 regarding Security Provisions a person can challenge the deportation order before a committee appointed by the military commander (“The Committee for Examining Deportation Orders”) which shall be established accordingly.
 
The Order does not regulate the modalities pursuant to which the appeal can be brought before the Committee; however, it is established that the person who is held in custody pursuant to a deportation order “shall be brought before the Committee as soon as possible and no later than 8 days from the date of issuance of the deportation order”.
 
It is evident that this system is intrinsically flawed: first of all PCHR stresses again that no genuine judicial system is possible pursuant to the Israeli military system (see the most recent PCHR Report “Genuinely Unwilling” of February 2010).
Second, according to Order No. 1650 the deportation order can be implemented within 3 days (or even less in certain circumstances), long before the 8 day time frame established for appeals hearings by Order No.1649.
 
It can be expected that in most of the cases the person will be deported without any possibility of challenging the order pursuant to which he has been arrested and deported.
 

 
Such a system is a blatant breach of international human rights standards, which require that every provision involving restriction of liberty must be subject to judicial review.
 
PCHR strongly condemns the issuance of these new military orders and calls upon Israel not to implement them.
 
These orders form part of the criminal policy that Israel has developed over the years against the Palestinian people; this policy combine occupation, apartheid, colonization and forced displacement of the population.
 
The contents of the new military orders are in blatant violation of international human rights standards and international law principles and represent one more tool in the hand of the Israeli occupation forces to control and alter the demographic composition of the oPt and ultimately impose a Jewish majority in Israel and the occupied territory.
 
These new orders – ostensibly enacted as ‘security measures’ – are, in fact, aimed at legitimising the forcible transfer and deportation of the civilian population of the oPt.
 
Israel, through its military commanders, is taking unlawful measures to eradicate the Palestinian people from their territory and take overall control of the area.
 
PCHR is seriously concerned about the implementation of these orders which could amount to individual or mass forcible transfer, as well as deportation of protected persons, measures absolutely prohibited under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
 
PCHR calls the international community to take action and put an end to the illegal population transfer, segregation and displacement that is taking place in the oPt and to impede the implementation of these new unlawful tools. PCHR remind that States Parties to the Geneva Convention have the duty to ensure respect for the conventions in all circumstances.
 
Immediate action must be taken if the international community is to prevent the aggravation of the criminal policy pursued by Israel in the oPt.

(source: The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights)