IDF General Uses 1945 Law to Bar East J'lem Resident From Capital

British Mandate law allows authorities to expel a resident from his hometown without the need for a criminal indictment or evidence that would indicate illegal activity.

The Israel Defense Forces Home Front commander has utilized a rare, British Mandate-era statute to bar a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem from the capital for a period of four months.

Adnan Jith- Emil Salman
Emil Salman

Adnan Jith, a resident of the East Jerusalem village of Silwan, was summoned last month by local police who handed him a letter signed by Ma'ayan Cohen, the top legal advisor for the Home Front Command.

"On November 25, security forces presented the military commander with defense-related material regarding your activities in the Jerusalem sector," the letter read. "In light of the information contained herein, the military commander, the Home Front Commander [Maj. Gen. Yair Golan], is considering making use of the authority granted to him - and to order your removal from the Jerusalem city limits and its environs for a period of four months."

If the expulsion is valid, it would be a rare instance in which a military officer orders the enforcement of an emergency law that was introduced in 1945, when the British ruled pre-state Palestine. The law allowed the authorities to expel a resident from his hometown without the need for a criminal indictment or evidence that would indicate illegal activity.

A similar procedure has been used against Mordechai Vanunu, the former technician at the Dimona nuclear plant who revealed state secrets to a British newspaper. Since serving an 18-year prison sentence, Vanunu has been subject to various restrictions.

Jith, a 34-year-old father of four, was arrested numerous times in recent months for allegedly inciting others to commit violence against the security forces in Silwan. As a precautionary measure, he was also arrested just prior to Mayor Nir Barkat's visit to a nearby village. Yet Jith was never issued with an indictment, nor did the authorities produce any evidence against him.

Jith is one of the more prominent activists opposing Barkat's plan to build a park and tourism center project known as "King's Gardens," a venture which necessitates the razing of 22 homes in Silwan.

Jith and his Israeli friends say that despite the arrests, he is actually trying to extinguish the violence that erupts occasionally.

Police informed Jith that he has two weeks to appeal the decision. "They claim to have classified information and all sorts of things," he said. "But the truth is that I'm not leaving Jerusalem. Nobody can take a person away from his home and his family."

"If they had enough evidence to bring an indictment, they would serve him with an indictment," said Jith's attorney, Rami Uthman."

In response to the army order, Uthman wrote a letter to the Home Front Command demanding that it turn over evidence against his client. He wrote that the measure taken against Jith constituted "a trampling infringement" of his rights.

In response, the IDF Spokesperson said: "The Home Front commander was presented with defense and intelligence information that ties Mr. Adnan Jith to activities related to public order within the city limits of Jerusalem, such as disturbances in the neighborhood of Silwan. The Home Front commander is thus authorized, by the power vested by defense regulations of 1945, to order the expulsion of Mr. Jith. The use of the emergency laws is employed in appropriate circumstances, and there have been recent cases.