Gaza After the Pullout / State's Refusal to Register Address Changes Sentences Many to Exile

Salah Wared is a Palestinian who was born in Yemen and arrived with his family in Gaza as part of the Oslo Accords in 1994, when he was 9 years old. He lived in Gaza for two years and then moved to Jenin in the West Bank. In 1999, the Palestinian Authority applied to Israel, on his family's behalf, for a change of address. Although the Israeli authorities had allowed the family to take up residence in Gaza and then to move to Jenin, they did not agree to change its address.

In October 2001, Wared's 10-year-old sister was killed by Israeli fire while at school. On June 1, 2004, Wared was stopped at the Hawara checkpoint and an administrative order was issued against him, noting his home address as Jenin. He was jailed without a trial for nine months and freed as part of the Israeli gestures to the PA last February. However, he was put on the bus returning the freed prisoners to Gaza and has been unable to leave there since then.

Hamoked, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, took up his case immediately after his release and petitioned the High Court of Justice on his behalf. Last week, the court issued an injunction ordering the state to explain within 60 days why it had taken this action against Wared.

This is just one of many instances in which a resident of the West Bank, who has a Gaza address, is caught at a West Bank checkpoint and exiled to the Gaza Strip. Hamoked has dealt with dozens of similar cases; apparently hundreds have been banished and, a Palestinian source says, thousands of others live in fear of a similar fate.

The state and the IDF regard them as "illegal" residents, and every soldier or policeman can exile them to Gaza, far from their homes.

Israel prevents the PA from changing the addresses of these people to the West Bank, even if they have lived there for many years and, in some cases, were born there.

Israel has total control of the Palestinian population registry. According to the Oslo Accords, the PA has merely to inform Israel of a change of address, but because of the intifada, Israel froze the requests to deal with such cases.

The state prosecution has claimed it will not permit Wared to return to Jenin, on the basis of "intelligence information." The state says the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were declared closed areas for security reasons in 1967 and that entry and exit from them requires the permission of the IDF.

However, in certain similar cases, Hamoked has succeeded in helping those detained and ordered to go to the Gaza Strip. According to Hamoked, every person has the basic right to change address and the demand that the IDF approve such a move "is reminiscent of certain dark regimes of the past."

The High Court of Justice did not demand that the state explain its basic legal right. But the court order does ask the state to explain how Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip will affect Wared's fate.