soldier - Ap - Aug 21, 2010
Palestinian women argue with an Israeli soldier while attempting to cross the Kalandia checkpoint August 27, 2010 Photo by AP
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Security officers in settlements are confiscating Palestinian workers' identity cards and holding them while they are in the Jewish communities, under IDF orders, even though there is no legal basis for their action. The Israel Defense Forces Spokesman told Haaretz that the matter is being investigated.

In many of the settlements there is a constant presence of Palestinian workers, who are mostly employed in construction, agriculture and various service industries. Regulations set up by the army require that the Palestinians undergo a security check to ensure that they are not carrying any weapons or explosives into the settlements.

They later hand over their identity cards to the head of security of the community, and he keeps them while they work in the settlement.

During the past week written instructions have been sent out to the security officers in settlements to carry out patrols of the area with the local IDF commander. They were also instructed to confiscate the identity cards and also on how to react in case of hostile incidents or clashes between Palestinians and settlers.

However, one of the security officers at a settlement noted that the order to confiscate identity cards was not supported by a military order. The security officers, who are employed by the regional authority, receive their instructions from the army.

One of them told Haaretz that he is entitled to request to see the identity card and to register the information, but not to confiscate the identity papers and hold it as a guarantee.

Haaretz asked the IDF about the legal basis for this request and the spokesman said "the matter is being investigated from a legal standpoint and also in terms of the commands issued."

Army regulations vary from time to time and from settlement to settlement, but usually, if there is a group of 10 Palestinian workers or more, a security guard is tasked with watching them.