The ban on allowing Palestinians to ride in Israeli cars in the West Bank will mainly be enforced near the border with Israel, and not throughout the West Bank, a senior Israel Defense Forces officer told Haaretz.
The officer said that he himself gives rides to Palestinians, and that he personally would not bother enforcing the rule as long as it is clear that the ride was "ordinary" and that the destination was not inside Israel.
The officer acknowledged that the ban, instituted by GOC Central Command Yair Naveh, does not "sound good," but insisted that it was meant primarily to prevent illegal Palestinian entrants from being smuggled into Israel in Israeli cars, whose occupants are usually checked less carefully.
The order was issued, he said, to foil a trick that Israelis who smuggle Palestinians into Israel have discovered in order to evade the prohibition on doing so: Because many checkpoints are not built exactly on the Green Line (which separates Israel from the West Bank), these Israelis could take their Palestinian passengers through the checkpoints and then let them off a few hundred meters later - still in Palestinian territory, but with easy access to Israel - without breaking any laws.
However, the Yesh Din organization has asked Defense Minister Amir Peretz to overturn the rule, arguing that it, like several other orders approved by Naveh, creates a legal mechanism of separation on the basis of national origin in the West Bank. As a result, they said, it is clearly illegal, and "constitutes an international crime, the crime of apartheid."
A statement abut the new policy issued by the IDF Spokesman's Office last week said it was intended to fight terror rather than merely reduce the number of illegal entrants.
The senior officer explained that the order was clearly aimed at this as well, but that the number of illegal entrants seeking work is much greater than the number of terrorists.
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