Monday, 12 April 2010

IDF order could lead to expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from West Bank

Any Palestinians or foreigners unable to produce a valid permit risks being deported within 72 hours or being faced with a lengthy seven-year spell in prison, under new orders issues by the IDF. Rights groups say the order is so loosely worded it could become an excuse for driving thousands of Palestinians out of the West Bank. It is all very reminiscent of the pass laws of Apartheid-era South Africa.
Israel's leading human rights groups are trying to stop two new Israeli military orders which will make any resident of the occupied West Bank who does not have an Israeli-issued permit liable for deportation or jail.

The new Order Regarding Prevention of Infiltration and Order Regarding Security Provisions, which comes into force on Tuesday have "severe ramifications," the rights groups say. Palestinians, and any foreigners living in the West Bank, could be labelled infiltrators and deported within 72 hours or jailed for seven years if they are found without the correct permit. It does not define what Israel considers a valid permit.

"The orders … are worded so broadly such as theoretically allowing the military to empty the West Bank of almost all its Palestinian inhabitants," said the 10 rights groups, which include Ha-Moked, B'Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Rabbis for Human Rights. Until now the vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank have not been required to hold a permit just to be present in their homes, the groups say.

"The military will be able to prosecute and deport any Palestinian defined as an infiltrator in stark contradiction to the Geneva conventions," they said. The law broadens the definition of an "infiltrator" and could allow Israel to transfer some Palestinians from the West Bank to Gaza, or to deport foreign passport holders married to West Bank Palestinians, or to deport Israelis or foreigners living in the West Bank. The groups said tens of thousands of Palestinians were in those categories.

Israel effectively controls the Palestinian population register and since 2000, apart from once in 2007, the Israeli authorities have frozen applications for renewal of visitor permits for foreign nationals, or applications to grant permanent status in the occupied territories. As a result, many Palestinians live in the West Bank without formal status and are now vulnerable under the new orders. The human rights groups wrote to the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, today asking him to delay or revoke the orders, which they said were "unlawful and allow extreme and arbitrary injury to a vast number of people".

The Israeli military said the purpose of the orders was "the extradition of those residing illegally in Judea and Samaria," an Israeli term for the West Bank. The orders had been "corrected" in order to "assure judicial oversight of the extradition process," it said.

However, Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the orders would make it easy for Israel to imprison or expel Palestinians from the West Bank. "These military orders belong in an apartheid state," he said. "They are an assault on ordinary Palestinians and an affront to the most fundamental principles of human rights. Israel's endgame is not peace. It is the colonisation of the West Bank." more

Israel threatens to cut off water to Palestinians on West Bank

Israel blames the victims again. This time the occupiers are complaining about untreated water going back into the system. But it is Israel that has been preventing Palestinians from building water treatment plants. Worse than that, earlier his year Israel deliberately flooded some Palestinian areas by opening the Al-Wadi dam east of Gaza without warning the Palestinian side.
An Israeli minister has threatened to cut off some water supplies to Palestinians in the West Bank unless they stopped “dumping untreated sewage”.

“If the Palestinians continue to dump their waste water, polluting rivers and the aquifer, Israe
l will stop supplying them”, Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau told army radio.
“Palestinians must meet their duties and connect to sewage treatment plants. Otherwise, we’ll give them drinking water but none for industrial or agricultural needs”, Landau added.

The West Bank aquifer is a crucial source of water for both Israel and the occupied West Bank.

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority, which is aiming to build the institutions and infrastructure of a viable, independent state by mid-2011, has blamed Israel for the lack of treatment plants.

“This is not a new position and we reject it completely. It is the Israelis who are keeping us from building waste water treatment plants”, commented Shaddad al-Attili, the head of the Palestinian Water Authority.

“We have been asking to carry out projects since 1997 but the Israelis have not given us permits to build stations in Areas B and C”, he added, referring to large areas of the West Bank that are under strict Israeli restrictions. more

Goods allowed into Gaza last week mostly destroyed beyond repair after years in Israeli storage

Last week's opening of some commercial crossings into the Strip turns out to have been something of a sick joke on the part of Israel - all the goods delivered were ruined. The goods had been stored in warehouses at the Israeli port of Ashdod since 2007. Meanwhile, two terminals were temporarily opened today to allow in fuel.
Gaza – Ma'an – Gaza merchants were relieved last week when Israeli officials announced an easing of a ban on clothing items that would soon be permitted to enter the Strip; stocks relegated to storage units in Ashdod since 2007 were finally set to be transferred in.

However, when merchants received the goods on Thursday, they were damaged beyond repair...

...Khan Younis clothing retailer Khaled Abu Sahlul said he was devastated when he unpacked a container of jeans stored in Ashdod since 2007. "I was shocked when I opened the containers, the jeans had been left out in the rain for days, months, maybe even years and were damaged beyond repair." more

Gaza power plant back online after forced three-day shutdown

After three days offline, the power station in Gaza is up and running again.
The sole power plant in the besieged Gaza Strip was shut down on Friday because fuel supplies ran out, with Palestinians and Israel blaming each other.

"The power plant shut down completely this morning as a result of a shortage of fuel caused by the Israeli siege," said Kanaan Obeid, assistant director of Gaza's electricity authority, referring to the Israeli blockade of Gaza since its 2007 takeover by the Islamist Hamas movement.

But Israel said the shut-down was caused by a rift over funding among the Palestinians, and that the Hamas rival, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, had stopped fuel purchases. more