Israelis Excel at Camouflaging the Expulsion of Palestinians

Here is an inventory of the methods of expulsion in their various concealments.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Just another day. Palestinians on their way to work go through an army checkpoint near Jenin.
Just another day. Palestinians on their way to work go through an army checkpoint near Jenin. Credit: AP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

As the descendants of a people which was banished throughout history from its homes and various homelands, we Israelis have developed our own expulsion skills – skills that would not embarrass the kings, nobles and officials of the goyim. Our contribution to the family of banishing nations is great, especially considering our short existence as a sovereign entity.

After the big expulsion of between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, we have made do with smaller expulsions, and excel in camouflaging them under various legal definitions or varying circumstantial theories. The Israeli civil-military bureaucracy does not attempt to bathe its acts in any single guiding ideology. But the spirit of Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, Rehavam Ze’evi and Yosef Weitz is watching from above.

Here is an inventory of the methods of expulsion in their various concealments:

“Stop being a resident.” Israel’s control of the Palestinian Population Registry allowed it to expel some 250,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip between 1967 and 1994 by revoking their status as residents (because they remained overseas for over seven years). These figures were provided by the Defense Ministry to HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, in 2011 and 2012. We must add about 100,000 Palestinians (at least) to this number, who fled or were expelled from the West Bank and Gaza during the June 1967 war and were not present during the census conducted that summer. They have not been allowed back to their homes. The Israelis who have emigrated to Los Angeles, it should be noted, continue to be Israelis.

“Trickery.” The Oslo Accords speak of a mechanism for the gradual return to the West Bank and Gaza of those who “lost” their identity cards in 1967. Later, Israeli representatives in the negotiations claimed that the intention was for those who had physically lost their ID cards, not residency status itself. In the meantime, here we have another section of the agreement that Israel is not carrying out, while demanding the Palestinians follow their commitments in full.

The continued control of the Palestinian Population Registry in the West Bank and Gaza, 20 years after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, allows Israel to continue and prevent hundreds of thousands from returning to their homes and families. Also, to approve only a few tens of thousands to return through the goodwill gesture of “family reunification.”

Defining the Palestinians born in East Jerusalem as “permanent residents” whose status is a sort of favor the country grants – like the favor it grants to a priest from the Philippines, for example, who wants to live in the Holy Land under Israeli rule. However, this is a favor with a condition: Whoever lives abroad for seven years will see this favor revoked. His status as a permanent resident will be revoked. But the Palestinians born in Jerusalem are what they are: Born there. In Palestinian Jerusalem. They did not choose to live under Israeli rule; it is Israel that chose to occupy them. And it is the one which decided that whoever lives and works abroad (even in the West Bank, a kilometer north of their homes) will lose his/her status as a permanent resident. In other, simpler, words to understand: They will not be allowed to return. Since 1967 through the end of 2013, Israel expelled 14,309 Jerusalem-born Palestinians that way (according to information that the Interior Ministry gave to HaMoked). Not so many? Think about the 7,000 “victimized” settlers from the Gaza Strip and the noise they are still making because their project of land theft and water robbery came to an end in 2005. The sword of expulsion is quietly hovering over the heads of all Jerusalem Palestinians, concealed under the cover of the laws of Israel and its glory.

Bedouin. Who counts them? They are always being expelled. From water sources, pasture lands, because of military firing ranges. Because of nature reserves. In the 1990s they were banished to the garbage dump of Abu Dis to make room for another neighborhood of Ma’aleh Adumim. Now there are plans to expel other groups of Bedouin to a town to be built north of Jericho.

Bedouin. Who counts them (II)? Under media silence, a few dozen Bedouin from the Kaabneh tribe, who had lived in East Jerusalem since the 1950s, were expelled to the West Bank.

“Area C.” Even before being defined as such, the Israel Defense Forces and Civil Administration implemented draconian rules (for Palestinians only) on housing, construction and agriculture. This is the reason that only some 300,000 Palestinians – 12% of the residents – live on some 60 percent of the area of the West Bank. Residents of “unrecognized” villages are required to move to the enclaves of Areas A and B.

In 2002, Israel expelled 26 of the Palestinians who were besieged in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, to Gaza. They were promised they could return after two years. So they were promised. Since then, they, their wives and children are living in Gaza, in exile, 70 kilometers from the homes where they were born. The Jews are a merciful people – two or three times they allowed the aging parents to visit their sons.

Making life in the enclaves insufferable. The chances of a young Palestinian finding work are shrinking, mostly because of Israeli control over most of the territory of the West Bank, and because of the limitations on movement it imposes. Twenty percent of the residents of the West Bank, and 40 percent of the residents in the Gaza Strip, say they would like to emigrate. And let us not forget the young people of East Jerusalem, whose odd jobs with the Jewish masters are often a trap for racist attacks. Is it possible that Israeli demographic experts are not aware of the link between economic hardship, a lack of a political and professional horizon, and military and racist attacks, and the desire to leave?

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