Why I decided to violate the administrative expulsion order

I am certain of the justice of my side in the matter, and with God’s help it will all turn out for the best.

Ya'alon and Gantz visit IDF troops in West Bank 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Ministry of Defense)
Ya'alon and Gantz visit IDF troops in West Bank 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Ministry of Defense)
About a month ago the Israel Police issued a “special monitoring order” – an administrative order – that forbade me to be in most of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) for six months. The order was signed by IDF OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon. The order, as is customary for administrative orders, does not detail the circumstances surrounding its issuance, except for a vague reference to “security reasons.”
When I received the order I declared my intent not to honor it. I stayed in my home and was arrested, but quickly released due to a technicality. Therefore I received a new, corrected order. After a few days I returned to my home, and since then [ed: at the time this letter was written it had only been two weeks, now it is close to a month], I have been in Yitzhar in blatant violation of the order. As I write these lines I am still in my home. I believe that sooner or later I will be arrested again, and for a more significant period of time. It is my desire to explain what drives me in this struggle, and to that end I will focus on two points: the injustice of the order, and the misunderstanding of why we are here in the Land of Israel.
FIRST, I’D like to provide some background for those not well versed in the differences between Israel’s ordinary criminal justice system and the administrative system in force in Judea and Samaria.
The State of Israel claims to be a country of enlightened laws which protect the rights of the individual, including the rights of a suspected criminal. A fundamental principle of the law is that a person is innocent until proven guilty, even in the extreme case that the accused admits to the charges, or when the crime was documented. So long as the legal process against him has not finished, the person is only a “suspect.”
To be clear: I do not support the current system of law in Israel. Jews desiring to be loyal to the Torah have a unique, completely different “criminal procedure.” As it is written in Hoshen Mishpat, in the laws of judges, “anyone who turns to the courts of the gentiles is wicked and it is as if he cursed and raised his hand against our teacher Moses.”
That said, there is also the understanding that “the law of the land is the law”; as long as we have not merited to be ruled by the laws of the Torah, there must be some legal system in place allowing us to move around safely without fear of violent criminals.
In order to punish a citizen of Israel for a crime, the prosecution must currently pass three hurdles, and at each stage the accused is entitled to defend himself.
In the beginning, the accused is called into the police station and the suspicions are explained to him. At this stage the suspect is entitled to refute the allegations. Only if the police are unconvinced by his explanation do criminal proceedings begin.
The next stage is the trial, where the evidence is presented.
The accused and his counsel are given the opportunity to contest each piece of evidence, or establish that, the evidence notwithstanding, there remains reasonable doubt regarding the guilt of the accused. Only if after a process lasting many months, when the court is convinced of a person’s guilt beyond all reasonable doubt, is the defendant convicted and sentenced. Yet still the process is not complete.
In the next stage the convict is entitled to contest the sentence. Usually there is a significant difference between the state’s desired sentence and the court’s final decision (certainly in the case of a plea bargain).
And still we have not mentioned the right of appeal and other rights.
So much for Israeli civil law.
What is an administrative order? IDF Central Command has the power to arbitrarily issue an order that restricts the freedom of movement of any person in Judea and Samaria, and is not required to explain itself. The person against whom the order has been issued does not know what he is suspected of, and therefore cannot deny the allegations.
In theory, the accused does have the right to appeal the decision, but in practice this is a fig leaf. The president of the Military Court of Appeals (the body to which appeals are brought) is an officer with the rank of colonel; there is no way he would contradict the decision of a general who is two ranks higher than him (and this is assuming the president of the court is hearing the appeal, and not a more junior officer).
Further, there is no basis for appeal when the appellant has no idea what the charges are.
There is logic in giving generals the power to issue such orders: Often the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) possesses information it cannot present in court. On the other hand, it would seem obvious that using measures designed to deal with murderers and terrorists against Jews accused of “public disturbances” or trivial property offenses is a moral offense.
In my own case, it isn’t clear that I am even suspected of such trivial offenses. I don’t know what the suspicions are against me. I can only speculate that it is due to the fact that I have stated my opinion in articles on Hakol Hayehudi and various other public forums.
In my case the order involves expelling a family with six children from its home, finding a new apartment, enrolling the children in new schools and finding an alternative source of income. However, perhaps the worst damage is the distancing of us from our circle of friends and natural environment.
On top of all that, I am a farmer by profession, and have to deal with my vineyard. Now, a few weeks before the harvest, I am to be cut off from my fields? I think anyone with a sense of justice and honesty should rise up against this arbitrariness whereby anyone who upsets the system is immediately punished with no explanation and no ability to defend himself. This is unlike any principle of law in Israel. This is not the struggle of the people of Yitzhar, nor even of the settlement enterprise – this is a struggle against basic injustice.
If there are allegations against me, then with all due respect, present them and I will deal with them in the accepted manner.
IN ADDITION to the basic injustice, there is another fundamental issue here. The root of the matter is in the fundamental question: “In whose name are we here?” The security establishment relates to the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria as a kind of experiment, and to the Jewish presence here as a privilege. Someday, in the eyes of the security establishment, the government will make a decision about the future of this area, and until then, Jews are entitled to the benefit of the doubt, conditional on good behavior, of course.
With regard to the Arabs, the security establishment’s attitude is completely different. No one even suggests that the Arab population suffers because of problematic behavior on its part. Indeed, for a convicted Arab murderer not to serve his full sentence is understandable; his actions were the legitimate and reasonable response of a natural resident resisting foreign “occupation.”
Or in other words, it is “settlers” vs “locals.” Recently, the Samaria Brigade commander issued a particularly detailed and defiant document which refers to the Arabs of the region as the “local residents.”
I see the matter differently.
I am here in Yitzhar among the hills of Samaria because I am a part of the Jewish nation, and this is its portion. Since 1967 the State of Israel has supported and encouraged the settlement movement and there is no doubt that we must be grateful and not disparage the good we have received.
But all of this has been at the whim of the state, not out of any commitment to this land. Now that the state has decided to fight the settlement movement, it is clear that the only chance of the movement continuing is through explaining that not because of the state do we live here.
It is the Arabs, not us, who are the foreign invaders and whose place is not here, and I have not a shadow of doubt that one day they will not be here. It will happen sooner or later, with consent or without. I have no idea how, but it will happen.
Gush Katif was destroyed because its residents were not able to openly and clearly say, “If the state wants to take out its soldiers, fine. What does that have to do with us?” The people of Gush Katif, some of whom are my closest friends and family, connected their fate with the fate of the state without any conditions and therefore they were thrown into mobile homes. (To anyone who challenges the ability of the settlers to survive without the army: This is a whole other topic, and I don’t have space to address it here, but in short: If the state did not prevent the settlers from arming themselves and organizing freely – and also stopped arming the other side – we would be fine. The military capability of the residents of Judea and Samaria is far greater than that of the Jews in the War of Independence in many ways. One day I hope to expand on this topic, with God’s help.) Therefore, not only does the injustice cause me to enter this fight, rather, or perhaps mainly, I fight to make it clear that the army’s Central Command does not have the authority to decide whether I can live here or not. I am here in the name of the Jewish nation and the commander is attempting to establish facts in the name of the State of Israel.
We are simply talking on different levels.
He wants to help develop the settlements by providing extra security? Wonderful! He wants to harm and disturb all of the above? I am not here because of his generous consent.
ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS like the one issued to me inherently include a permit to stay in one of the communities of Judea and Samaria, in my case the community of Sha’arei Tikva. This is not due to the IDF’s generosity, but rather is a legal necessity. The Geneva Convention prohibits the commander in charge of an occupied territory to expel a resident from that territory. However, the commander is permitted to demarcate a certain area within that territory that a resident must remain within. Nitzan Alon is just following the rule; he is not expelling me, God forbid, from Judea and Samaria, rather he is confining me within Sha’arei Tikva.
The point is that the government relates to the “problematic” settlers according to international treaties; the relation between us is that of “a commander of an occupying army” to the “occupied population.”
How will all this end? I don’t know. I am certain of the justice of my side in the matter, and with God’s help it will all turn out for the best.