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PLO advisory memo on Israeli military orders

April 14, 2010 4:19 P.M. (Updated: April 14, 2010 11:00 P.M.)



Subject: Israeli Military Orders Aimed at Expelling Palestinians from the West Bank

Date: 14 April 2010

The purpose of this memo is to advise on the implications of two new Israeli military orders regarding Prevention of Infiltration (Amendment No. 2) and regarding Security Provisions (Amendment No. 112) that came into effect on April 13, 2010.

I. Issue

Order No. 1650 regarding Prevention of Infiltration and Order No. 1649 regarding Security Provisions were issued in October 2009 as amendments to a 1969 military order that declared “infiltrators” coming from Jordan, Syria, Egypt or Lebanon (the so-called “enemy states” at the time of the issuance of the order) liable to imprisonment and deportation.

The new orders re-define an “infiltrator” in such generic terms that virtually any person currently present in the West Bank may potentially fall under that definition and consequently incur criminal liability and/or be subject to deportation.

An “infiltrator” under the new orders is defined as “a person who entered the West Bank unlawfully” or “a person who is present in the Area and does not lawfully hold a permit”. The ‘Area’ refers to the occupied West Bank.

Pursuant to Military Order No. 1650, any person who unlawfully entered the area shall be sentenced to seven years imprisonment, whereas an individual who has lawfully entered the Area but does not “hold a permit” shall be sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Moreover, regardless of whether the “infiltrator” is charged with an offence under the Order or not, the military commander may order the deportation of the person from the West Bank; the issuance of the deportation order shall be considered as an arrest order and serve as the “legal source for holding such infiltrator in custody pending his deportation”. The deportation can be executed 72 hours after the order and in some cases even sooner.

As a consequence of the expansion and ambiguity of the new definition of “infiltrator”, the Order goes beyond individuals coming from so-called “enemy states”, as was previously the case; it now may apply to any Palestinian, whether born in the West Bank or who lawfully moved to it, for instance from Gaza or from abroad.

The new military orders establish that every person without a document or permit is “presumed to be an infiltrator”. According to Order 1650, the permit is a document issued by the military commander, or a person appointed by him in accordance with security legislation, or by Israeli authorities under the Entry into Israel Law, 5712-1952.

II. Persons affected by new military orders

The vagueness of the definition in the new military orders allows Israel to apply them to every person currently present in the West Bank regardless of his or her status, identity, or nationality and that every person present in the West Bank will need a permit from the Israeli authorities to avoid being imprisoned or deported. Nonetheless, previous Israeli practices with permit regimes (e.g. the declaration of the area between the Green Line and the Wall as closed military areas requiring a permit) suggest that Israel will issue a general permit for Israeli settlers while requiring individual permits from Palestinians.

Notwithstanding, the most vulnerable groups that may be affected by the new orders are:

1. Thousands of persons who do not have a formal status in the OPT. These are individuals who entered the OPT many years ago for family reunification, humanitarian reasons and other purposes justifying long term “visitor” permits issued to them by the Palestinian National Authority in accordance with the restrictive terms of the Interim Agreement. Many of them have filed applications for residency, however their applications have been “frozen”, not dealt with or rejected by Israel.

1. Thousands of Palestinians formally registered as residents of Gaza that have moved since 1967 to the West Bank and/or their descendants (a permit was never required to relocate within these parts of the OPT in the past).

In conclusion, pursuant to the new military orders, as they currently stand, all Palestinians in the West Bank are under increased threat of deportation. However, as a first stage, it is more likely that thousands of persons belonging to the above mentioned two groups may be subject to imprisonment or immediate deportation from the West Bank at the discretion of the Israeli military.

III. Legal Analysis

In June 1967, the Israeli military took control of the OPT. Since then, Israel has maintained actual and effective control over the OPT and the indigenous Palestinian population. Thus, Israel belligerently occupies the OPT as a matter of law. This has been the position of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Committee of the Red Cross. That status of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip remains that of an occupied territory under international law despite the application of the interim agreements.

As an occupant, Israel’s powers and authorities are regulated by international law, in particular international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and human rights law.

The new Israeli military orders enabling the deportation of protected persons would constitute a breach of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits any kind of forcible transfer as well as the deportation of protected persons (civilians) from the occupied territory. The deportation of indigenous Palestinians from their homeland by the occupying power would also constitute a clear violation of the principle of self determination under general international law.

By targeting spouses or children of Palestinians, the military orders would also constitute a clear violation of the right to family under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including Article 46 of the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1907 stipulating that “Family honor and rights .. must be respected”.

Lastly, by treating the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as two separate legal entities, the new military orders stand in clear violation of the interim agreements signed between the PLO and Israel which stipulate that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank shall be considered one single territorial unit [1]. Moreover, the orders violate article 28 of the Protocol Concerning Civil Affairs, annex III to the Interim Agreement of 1995 which grants the PNA the authority and power, inter alia, to issue ID cards to Palestinians and visitor permits.

To conclude, the contents of the new military orders are in blatant violation of basic human rights, fundamental norms of international humanitarian law, the right of self determination and previous agreements signed between the PLO and Israel.


[1] Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements September 13, 1993- Article IV on “Jurisdiction”: The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, whose integrity will be preserved during the interim period.
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