The Right to Deport

When Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni, who was commander of the IDF's units in Judea and Samaria, signed a military order six months ago in which 10 different variations of the Hebrew root for the word "deport" appeared, it seemed neither he or the faceless army jurists who formulated the edict verified which week the order would come into effect. As it turned out, the amended "order to prevent infiltration (into the West Bank)" coincided with the saddest of April's days.

Once the order's implications were published and once human rights organizations and the Palestinian grassroot groups and officials began fighting it, Israeli security sources sought to calm fears.

There is nothing new in this order, they say. The (military) law has always permitted the expulsion of illegal sojourners. Contrary to what has been written, the new edict is designed to ameliorate the lot of the individual being expelled by allowing for judicial oversight.

On March 25, the Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual dispatched a letter to current GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi warning the officer of the danger inherent in enforcing the order. If the edict contains no new provisions, then why didn't the military authorities offer clarifications to Hamoked's legal experts before it reached the press?

The Israel Defense Forces' reassurances address a second order, which joined the above-mentioned order against infiltration. This second order concerns the establishment of a military judiciary committee to examine the deportation process.

The army's attempt to pacify public opinion ignores the main order and ignores the accumulated changes - for the worse - that the Israeli government introduced limiting Palestinian freedom of movement and residency.

By what right? By Israel's right as a military regime that is above all. The vague language used in the order combined with the gradual changes are enough to sound the warning siren. This ambiguousness is not just any ordinary slip of the tongue.

Army order number 1650 expands the legal definition of infiltrator, the criminal, so that it can immediately be applied to the following population groups: Palestinians (and their offspring) who lost their residency status due to Israel's actions since 1967; Palestinians whose ID lists them as Gazans; and foreign nationals.

That is killing many birds with one stone - birds who are already in the West Bank and those who plan to commit the crime of "infiltrating" it.

The goals are to limit the population growth of Palestinians in the West Bank; to complete the process of severing the Palestinian population in Gaza from West Bank society (in violation of the Oslo Accords); and to deter foreign nationals joining the popular struggle against the occupation (see: IDF raids in Ramallah in search of foreigners).

But the order also has the potential to add more categories of "infiltrators."

The new key word in the amended edict is "permit," without which an individual will be considered an infiltrator. Over the last 20 years Israel has instituted a complicated system of travel and residency permits for the Palestinians in the West bank and Gaza.

"Permit" is a euphemism for prohibition. The more Israeli politicians spoke of a two-state solution, the more complicated this regime of travel restrictions between Gaza and the West Bank became. The tentacles of this regime, which made travel between Gaza and the West Bank more difficult, and limited entry to individuals in certain areas of the West Bank, branched out further and further.

There are bans that were instituted for emergency periods and were later suspended. But the ban on living or entering without a permit to the area that lies between the Green Line and the separation fence - be it your home or land - remains in place. One mustn't forget that permits are given sparingly.

When one takes into account Israel's policy of disconnecting East Jerusalem from the West Bank, it is quite possible that the military ban on Palestinian East Jerusalemites entering areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority without a permit will be renewed.

The military commander of the area reserves his right - a right taken by force of arms and military coercion - to concoct new permits. The order implies that new permits/prohibitions might be invented, and more individuals defined as infiltrators.

Is this impossible? Is this the product of delusions? The delusional did in fact happen to the residents of the Gaza Strip. Since January 1991, Israel has instituted restrictions on their travel to education or residence in the West Bank. Now, as of 2000, they are even officially classified as illegal sojourners there.

Since 2007, those few Gazans who are permitted to exit the Strip are also required to apply for a permit to stay in the West Bank.

The regime, which constantly invents new types of permits, has become the trademark of Israel's military rule. It grants junior and senior commanders the right usually reserved for authoritarian rulers or military dictators to determine whether people are able to study and where they can work, live or travel. It even allows them to decide whom they can marry. The new edict expands the right of the ruler to expel.