Israel Won't Issue New ID Card to Arab Citizen Detained Without Trial Over Security Offenses

Lawyers for Ala Atwil say struggle for its return may be 'punishment' for his refusal of offer to 'cooperate with authorities' while he was held for four months without trial

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Young Israeli Arab man who is fighting to get his Israeli ID card back after arrest and detention.
Ala Atwil. a young Israeli Arab man who is fighting to get his Israeli ID card back after arrest and detention.

Israels Interior Ministry has refused to issue a new Israeli identification card to a 23-year-old man from the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm who was detained without trial for security crimes and released. The Israel Prison Service confiscated his old ID card when he was arrested.

Ala Atwil was arrested on August 13th along with three other residents of the Wadi Ara region on an administrative detention order signed by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Such an arrest and detention without trial of Arabs who are Israeli citizens is a rare occurrence, although it happens quite frequently to Palestinians who are arreted.

Atwil says he handed over his ID card to the Prison Service the day he was arrested, but when he was released four months later the card was not returned to him. When he asked why, he was told he must ask the Interior Ministry to issue him a new ID card.

On December 25, 2017 Atwil went to the offices of the Interior Ministrys Population, Immigration and Border Authority in Afula and asked to receive a new ID card, and also to register his marriage and add his wifes details to his ID card. The couple married after he was released from jail.

The clerk told Atwil the cost of the new document was 110 shekels ($30), but after he paid for it, the clerk informed Atwil she was unable to issue the ID card.

She asked me to wait a few minutes, and after she returned she explained to me that she was unable to issue a new ID card or register my marriage for reasons not related to the Interior Ministry, Atwil told Haaretz. The next day I was told an official would call me to explain to me what the reason was and what procedure I needed to do.

But, he says no one from the Interior Ministry ever got back to him.

There is no reason [for not issuing the ID card] except for cruelty and to apply pressure, said Omar Khamaisi, a lawyer from the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights who is representing Atwil. Khamaisi said Atwil received hints on the day he was released that the authorities would make his life difficult and the refusal to issue the ID document is one of these tools.

Khamaisi also claimed that during Atwils detention without trial attempts were made to convince him to cooperate with the security forces, but he refused. This could also explain this further punishment Khamaisi speculated.

Atwils lawyers turned to the Interior Ministry in Afula this week asking them to issue the ID card and register Atwil and his wife as married. Your refusal to do so violates basic rights and violates the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty and the Citizenship Law. This is an unreasonable decision based on irrelevant considerations, the lawyers wrote the ministry.

The lawyers told Haaretz they intend on petitioning the High Court of Justice on the matter if the Interior Ministry does not issue the document.

The Population Authority said in response: Ala Atwils request requires additional information and an answer will be provided soon. We do not intend to respond to the lawyers request via the newspaper.