A Kairos moment: ‘infiltration’ of rights on the West Bank

A Kairos moment: ‘infiltration’ of rights on the West Bank

By Kairos Palestine
23 Apr 2010

“Through our love, we will overcome injustices and establish foundations for a new society both for us and for our opponents. Our future and their future are one. Either the cycle of violence that destroys both of us or the peace that will benefit both” (Kairos Palestine document 4.3).

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A new Israeli military order that categorises tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank as “infiltrators” – ostensibly because they lack the proper permits – and gives military officers sweeping control over their deportation. A group of Palestinian Christian theologians explains why this is morally and politically wrong, and explains how people of good will can raise their voices against an injustice which militates against peace with justice for all in Israel-Palestine.

Kairos Palestine (a group of Palestine Christians and theologians) expresses its outrage and dismay about a new Israeli military order that will categorise tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank as “infiltrators” – ostensibly because they lack the proper permits – and give military officers sweeping control over their deportation. We condemn this action and call upon churches worldwide to publically demand the revocation of the order regarding “Prevention of Infiltration” (Amendment No. 2) issued by the Israeli military authorities.

The new order (signed in October 2009 but not publically released; scheduled to take effect on April 13, 2010) amends an order issued in 1969 after Israel officially occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem. The new amendment redefines an “infiltrator” as “a person who entered the Area unlawfully following the effective date, or a person who is present in the Area and does not lawfully hold a permit” (amendment to section 1.1.B), making him/her:
a) subject to almost immediate deportation,
b) potentially subject to a jail term of up to seven years, and
c) responsible for funding his/her own detention and deportation.

Furthermore, the military may delay an individual’s appearance before an appeals committee for up to eight days, despite the fact that it may command his/her expulsion within 72 hours of the order, which means, in effect, that people may be deported without any kind of legal hearing (cf. Amendment to section 3 C.D).

Who exactly will the Israeli military target as “infiltrators”? As Amira Hass of Ha’aretz reports, “the order’s language is both general and ambiguous” about this matter. Indeed, the Israeli NGO HaMoked, Center for the Defense of the Individual, remarks that the declaration is so vague that it could permit “the [Israeli] military to empty the West Bank of almost all of its Palestinian inhabitants.”

That said, the amended order suggests that the new definition of “infiltrator” will apply first and foremost to:
* Gazans living in the West Bank whose addresses are still registered in the Gaza Strip and to their West Bank-born children and
* Palestinians who relocated to the West Bank under family reunification provisions.

Many other sectors may be targeted as well:
* Jordanians residing in the West Bank;
* Palestinian residents of Jerusalem;
* foreign-born spouses of Palestinians and
* foreign citizens working in the West Bank, particularly with NGOs and Human Rights groups.

The implications of the new order are multi-faceted. It is:
* A flagrant display of military power;
* a destructive and cynical command that reduces thousands of people to “illegal aliens” in their own homes;
* a threat that, regardless of the extent of its implementation, will confine Palestinians in their villages and further sever them from vital economic, health, education, and social centers and is
* “another improper step toward creating demographic changes in the West Bank and entrenching a regime which discriminates between people on the basis of religion and nationality” as it has been written in a joint letter sent to Ehud Barak by a group of nine NGOs.

The above factors will create greater fear and insecurity among Palestinians, which, in turn, may lead to violence and endanger any prospect for a peace with justice in the whole region.

In addition to defying basic human rights, the military order also arrogantly violates various terms of international law, including Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting the forcible transfer/deportation of protected civilians in an occupied territory, and the principle of self-determination stipulated by general international law.

Kairos Palestine calls on churches worldwide, church related organisations, Christians and the wider international community, to condemn these shameful developments and work to restore the justice that is both our calling and our right. We further call you to take bold action:
* To support us and intervene in this latest encroachment on Palestinian rights;
* to contact Israeli officials and denounce the military order;
* to contact your own national embassies in Palestine/Israel, as well as Israeli embassies in your own countries, and urge them to pressure Ehud Barak and other members of the Israeli government to prevent its enactment.
* to inform the wider public in your different communities and networks and the media about these inhumane actions.

In every case, please emphasise that the order will not only wrongly criminalise thousands of people, but also that it will further damage efforts towards peace with justice in Palestine/Israel.

Letters demanding the revocation of the amended order should be sent to: ,

Ehud Barak, Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940
Email: minister@mod.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Minister

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs: +972-2-530-3111

The Israeli Ambassador in your own country

Your own national embassy in Israel

And please copy any emails to: Kalimatuna@gmail.com

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© Kairos Palestine is a group of Palestine Christians ((www.kairospalestine.ps))who authored A Moment of Truth – Christian Palestinian’s word to the world about the occupation of Palestine, an expression “of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering”, and a call for solidarity in ending over six decades of oppression. The document was published in December 2009.

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