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Today: Aug 22, 2017

JCSER deplores the new military occupation order that permits the massive expulsion of Palestinian from West Bank

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A new Israeli military occupation order aims at preventing "infiltration" will come into force on April 14, enabling the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in West Bank, or their indictment on charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years.

The order considers tens of thousands of Palestinians as criminal offenders liable to be severely punished. Israeli media anticipates that 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.

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.

According to the Israeli journalist Amira Hass, 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.

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.

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.

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.

In 2007, 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.

Another 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.

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 Jerusalem Center for the Social and Economic Rights, JCSER, blatantly deplores this occupation military order and considers it another proof that the policy of the right-wing Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu adds more impediments in the path to achieve just an honorable peace between both parties. It also cancels the Palestinian partner to peace when ignoring its presence and issuing orders in regards to areas that are supposed to be under the jurisdiction of PNA. Moreover, it ignores all the signed agreements between both sides.

JCSER believes that the new order threatens to deport some 70,000 Palestinians knowing that there are some 30,000 Palestinians lost their residency rights due to the Israeli policy of quiet ethnic cleansing. In addition to that Israel's segregation wall isolated some 165 Palestinians from their city in Jerusalem according to UN reports. The order will effect also 20,000 Palestinians who are married to Jerusalemites yet they are deprived of residency rights in Jerusalem.

In addition, JCSER, would like to affirm that the new Israeli occupation order violates the basic human rights of the human to live where he or she wishes. For example, Art. 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR, stipulates that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including ... housing."

JCSER would like to remind that Art. 16 (2) of the UDHR, provides that "The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state." However, Art. 12 reads that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, not to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

Finally, JSCER calls upon the international community for immediate interference to force the Israeli occupation military to rescind its decision.