Rights groups petition against West Bank deportation policy

Petition also calls the army to update the Palestinian population registry.

By DAN IZENBERG
May 30, 2010 05:15
2 minute read.
A view of the Gaza skyline

gaza strip view skyline 311. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Fifteen human rights organizations, headed by Hamoked – Defense of the Individual, petitioned the High Court of Justice late last week against the army’s policy of deporting to the Gaza Strip Palestinians living in the West Bank who appear in Israel’s copy of the population registry as having a Gaza address.

The petition also calls on the court to order the army to update changes of address by Palestinians who have moved from Gaza to the West Bank in accordance with the change made in the Palestinian population registry.

Since 2000, Israel has refused to update its copy of the Palestinian registry. It will not accept notifications of changes from the Palestinian Authority in any of the details that are inserted into the Palestinian population registry, such as change of address.

In that time, thousands of Gazans have moved to the West Bank. Many of them have married there and started families, found work and made friends.

“Over the years, and particularly in recent years, Israel has begun to base itself on the outdated addresses in order to expel people from the homes,” the human rights organizations charged.

Even those who are not expelled live in fear or suffer bureaucratic hardships because of their status, the petitioners continued.

“People are repeatedly held up at roadblocks, they have problems and delays when they try to cross the Allenby Bridge into Jordan, they are prevented from going to the Israeli liaison office because it only serves those registered as living in its area of jurisdiction, and they face difficulties in their dealings with local authorities. And all of this because their addresses have not been updated in the population registry.


For 40 years, between 1967 and 2007, there were almost no restrictions on the entry of Palestinians from Gaza to the West Bank and no permits were required. After Hamas ousted the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Israel closed the borders and refused to allow Palestinians to cross into the West Bank (via Israel) except in extreme humanitarian cases.

By this time, the policy of ordering Palestinians who were registered in the Israeli population registry as living in Gaza to return to Gaza was already apparent.

Meanwhile, in 2007, Israel began to demand that anyone from the Gaza Strip whose address had not been changed to the West Bank must receive a special permit from the military commander allowing him to remain in the West Bank. The petitioners charged that the requirement was not based on any military legislation and was therefore illegal.

Hamoked attorney Eli Cahana told The Jerusalem Post that these permits must be extended every six months. While some Gazans have received such permits, most of the applications have been rejected, he said.

Until now, Hamoked and other organizations have petitioned the High Court in individual cases of Palestinians who have lived in the West Bank and been ordered to return to Gaza, even after many years. This is the first time that the human rights groups have attacked the policy in principle. The reason for this, said Cahana, is that fact that there are an increasing number of cases and that the civil administration is less willing to change its mind before cases are due to go to court.

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