Briefing Paper October 2013
Seminar- University Links with Israel – a bonus for whom?
Saturday 26 October 1 pm 2013
Wellington Church, University Avenue, Glasgow G12 9LE
Opposite Glasgow University’s main building, access to the venue (Woodlands Hall) is from Southpark Avenue at the side of the Church. Public transport: use underground to Hillhead Station. Please note there is restricted parking.
Prof Ilan Pappe will argue the case for academic boycott of Israel
[Ilan Pappe was born in Haifa in 1954. Graduated from the Hebrew University in 1979 and completed his doctorate studies in the university of Oxford in 1984. Pappe taught in University of Haifa between 1984 and 2006 in the department of Middle Eastern History and Political Science. Due to his support of the academic boycott of Israel and his insistence of teaching the 1948 Nakbah he was forced to resign in 2007.
In 2007, Pappe joined the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter and founded the European Centre for Palestine Studies there.
He is the author of fifteen books most notably The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006)]
Second speaker will discuss the academic boycott with reference to recent litigation concerning the legality of the boycott in relation to issues of discrimination.
Lecturer in law at the School of Oriental & African Studies.
Prof Jonathan Rosenhead has been asked to discuss the nature of any bonus for those academics who choose to collaborate with Israel.
Jonathan Rosenhead is Professor Emeritus of Operations Research at the London School of Economics. He is also Chair of the British Committee for Universities for Palestine (BRICUP)
Chair: Nick McKerrell, President EIS University Lecturers’ Association
On 4th February 2011, the Jewish Chronicle Online reported that Glasgow University professor Adam Tomkins was the year’s recipient of the Hailsham Scholarship by the British Friends of the Hebrew University for work promoting understanding between Israel and the UK.
The previous year he had been a visiting professor at the Jerusalem university, where he ran a course on national security. It was reported that the Scholarship would facilitate the next stage of what Prof Tomkins hoped would be “a lifelong series of collaborations with colleagues at the Hebrew University”. In addition the comment “If, as a result, links between Glasgow Law School and legal scholars in Israel are strengthened, this will be an added bonus.” was attributed to Prof Tomkins.
For over two years, Scottish Friends of Palestine questioned the nature of this bonus with Professor Tomkins and the head of the School of Law, Professor Rosa Greaves. We questioned the apparent mandate which Prof Tomkins had to speak on behalf of the School of Law at Glasgow University. While Professor Tomkins was prepared to enter into dialogue, Professor Greaves adopted the mantra of academic freedom and the need to protect free exchange of ideas.
For over two years we supplied information to every single member of the School of Law in relation to the denial of educational opportunity and academic freedom by Israel. On this subject the whole School was mute. The question as to why the sacrosanct nature of academic freedom with a state which consistently denies it to others remains unanswered.
This Seminar is open to the public. There is no charge for entry. Please make every effort to attend and publicise as widely as possible.
To assist with the planning of the event, you are invited to register by contacting email@example.com
Extracted from Newsletter 64 produced by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine.
To Stephanie Selg,
Associate Human Rights Expert,
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights”
“medical professionals abandon their duty by failing to document and report torture; by passing on medical information to interrogators; returning interrogees to the custody of their interrogators when in danger of being exposed to further torture or ill-treatment; and in extreme cases, by taking an active part in the interrogation
Dear Ms Selg/Office of UN Rapporteur on Torture
As convenor and on behalf of the other 724 signatories from 43 countries I thank you for your response of 19 March  regarding our request for an intervention by the Rapporteur on our evidence based charge that medical collusion with torture in Israel has been systematic over many years, supported by the Israeli Medical Association (IMA), and that the World Medical Association (WMA) has definitively refused to act despite its mandated duty to do so.
It is disappointing that it has taken your Office two years, a period spanning the tenure of 2 Rapporteurs, to tell us that you have a mandate to deal only with States, whereas the IMA and WMA are civil society organisations. We understand the distinction though would comment that the evidence base makes it clear that as a matter of conscious policy the IMA has functioned as an exemplary State actor, and in addition that doctors in the security units/detention centres where torture is deployed are all State employees. As the 2008 United Against Torture coalition (a coalition of 14 Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations) concluded:” the use of torture by Israeli authorities is both widespread and systematic…the UAT coalition has observed and recorded evidence of acts, omissions and complicity by agents of the State at all levels. The Coalition is of the opinion that until this culture of impunity is addressed, the situation is unlikely to improve.”
Nonetheless, if a national medical association or the WMA are not formally accountable to your Office, to whom are they accountable – given that the evidence against them is as grave as this? The UN Committee for Human Right or other UN body? Surely the WMA must answer to someone!
You confirm that the Rapporteur is “following” the Jaradat case that was the subject of the Lancet report in March we sent you. (See part 2 of this report.) You say that you “will be willing to act on information from you (i.e. us) and your colleagues that concern the actions of Israeli State agents in specific cases”. In the original dossier we sent you, and re-sent several times, the 2007 “Ticking Bombs” report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) analysed in detail the role played by detention centre doctors in 9 specific cases of torture, in several cases naming the doctors implicated- and naming also the IMA Head of Ethics who was sent a copy of the report.
We have previously drawn your attention to a subsequent joint report (October 2011) by PCATI and by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI) 8 entitled “Doctoring the Evidence, Abandoning the Victim”. Indeed, we understand that Rapporteur Mendez personally received a paper copy of the report when he was in London in late 2011. Based on a series of testimonies and other evidence, primarily the files of over 100 victims of torture and ill-treatment handled by PCATI/PHRI since 2007, it demonstrates a consistent pattern of active or passive involvement by doctors in the practice of torture in Israel on an institutionalised basis. A further copy is attached here. Its summary affirms that “medical professionals abandon their duty by failing to document and report torture; by passing on medical information to interrogators; returning interrogees to the custody of their interrogators when in danger of being exposed to further torture or ill-treatment; and in extreme cases, by taking an active part in the interrogation. Because of their unique social status, the presence of medical professionals in facilities where torture or ill-treatment are carried out indicates the boundaries between the permissible and the impermissible: it grants Israeli Security Agency (ISA) interrogators a stamp of approval, whether explicit or tacit, that their conduct is acceptable”.
The report also notes that this conduct by doctors “furthermore precludes the victim from presenting evidence which can aid in pursuing justice through various legal and administrative proceedings”. The significance of this can be seen in the fact that “over 700 complaints alleging torture/ill-treatment by ISA interrogators have been filed since 2001 and not one single criminal investigation has been initiated”. Complicity by doctors is therefore a significant force in maintaining the impunity of ISA interrogators. PCATI/PHRI further confirm that “medical staff in prisons, detention centres and hospitals which treat prisoners are part of the broader administrative systems, primarily the medical apparatus of the Prison Service, the Israeli Medical Association and the Ministry of Health”. Torture continues to receive the full institutional backing of the state. From long experience PCATI/PHRI conclude that “there are serious doubts that the IMA is willing to enforce these rules: persistently repeated requests by PCATI/PHRI calling the IMA’s attention to cases arousing suspicion of doctors’ involvement in torture and cruel or degrading treatment, have not been dealt with substantively.”.
PCATI/PHRI note that the IMA’s ethical code contains clauses which do not accord with the fundamental principle of medical ethics, which is that the well-being of the patient should be the doctor’s sole concern. IMA codes require the doctor to respect “the good of society as a whole and its right to protect itself”, authorising the doctor to assist the security authorities upon their request, even when this may harm the rights of the patient…. “With these clauses, the IMA enables the needs of the security apparatus to be seen as coming before the ethical duties of doctors”. We would add our own experience over years both before and after our campaign was started in 2009: the IMA has worked hard to block requests and vilify those who made them, has given false assurances in medical journals like the Lancet and British Medical Journal, IMA President Yoram Blachar justified “moderate physical pressure” (the then Israeli euphemism for torture) in the Lancet and in an Israeli newspaper, and whilst WMA President started a libel suit against me as campaign convenor when we approached the WMA. Whilst the IMA have regularly pronounced their support for the WMA’s anti-torture Declaration of Tokyo an other protocols, this is mere window dressing and their actual behaviour over many years points the other way. In all this the IMA has functioned as a State actor. The report is also replete with details of the kind of specific cases which you confirm you would be willing to take action on. Telling examples are given in Section C entitled “The bitter pill: on the Actions and Failings of Medical Staff” * We would welcome your further advice as soon as possible. Will you act on these and other specific cases, as your response to us promises? Will you give us an answer to the question highlighted in bold above-to whom is the WMA accountable, for if it is to no one we must conclude that regulation of medical ethics worldwide is essentially a paper exercise.
We hope to hear from you promptly.
Dr Derek Summerfield, Honorary Senior Lecturer,
Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London.
Palestinian teen describes being used as a human shield by Israeli forces in Abu Dis
Dina Elmuti 04/06/2013
Like other children who have been detained and tortured by Israeli forces, Muhammad shares a painful and unimaginable narrative. He points to his forehead where a soldier struck him with the stock of a rifle, at his legs where soldiers kicked him repeatedly, and at the base of his neck, wincing from the pain he still feels from being hit there with steel helmets.
Muhammad told DCI-Palestine that on the afternoon he was abducted he was walking to the supermarket, approximately 200 meters (660 feet) from his home, when he saw a group of youth running away and shouting that Israeli soldiers were chasing them. Unaware that there were any clashes taking place, he began to run as well. Moments later, two military jeeps advanced toward him and a voice from behind threatened to shoot him if he did not stop. A soldier caught him and forced him into a military jeep where he was bound and blindfolded.
Violating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and the UN Convention against Torture, Israeli soldiers and authorities subjected Muhammad to ill-treatment during arrest and interrogation. DCI-Palestine evidence shows that 75 percent of Palestinian children experience a systematic pattern of ill-treatment by the Israeli military, with the majority of abuse occurring during the first 48 hours.
Like other children who have been detained and tortured by Israeli forces, Muhammad shares a painful and unimaginable narrative. He points to his forehead where a soldier struck him with the stock of a rifle, at his legs where soldiers kicked him repeatedly, and at the base of his neck, wincing from the pain he still feels from being hit there with steel helmets.
He describes the verbal and physical abuse he was subjected to in the back of the military jeep during the forcible transfer to the military camp on the hill west of town. With his hands restrained by two plastic cords digging into his skin, soldiers forced him to sit on a revolving chair that spun as the jeep moved, giving them easier access to kick him from all sides. After reaching the camp, the soldiers dragged him out of the jeep and knocked him down on the ground. “I couldn’t see anything but I remember feeling pain everywhere,” he said. “One of them hit me on my head with his helmet.” Muhammad screamed in pain and begged the soldiers to stop, but they began beating him harder for at least 10 minutes. It was at this point that the soldiers took him back to town where he found himself in the midst of clashes. At gunpoint, soldiers forced Muhammad to walk among them as they confronted the demonstrators and opened fire in their direction.
After a few moments, he was shoved into the jeep where he was blindfolded and transferred back to the military camp. “One of the soldiers sprayed the keffiyeh (scarf) I was wearing with pepper spray before tying it tightly over my eyes, burning them,” he says. “Each time I coughed, he told me to shut up and kicked me. I wasn’t allowed to cough.” At the military camp, soldiers forced him to stand facing a metal pole. Muhammad said the soldiers ripped his jacket and searched him, while an army dog clawed his back and calves. Following the search, soldiers knocked him down on the ground where he laid for two hours in pain as they continued to kick him in his legs, back and stomach. One of the soldiers removed the keffiyeh over his eyes and poured gasoline on it, burning it in front of him. The soldiers re-blindfolded him with a black piece of cloth and continued to hit him on the head with their helmets. Muhammad struggled to stand for long due to the pain in his right leg, but the soldiers continued the ill-treatment by confining him in a sewage disposal system where he stood for over half an hour, blindfolded and bound. Muhammad remembers hearing the sound of a steel door slammed shut before he was caged in suffocating silence.
Following his confinement, Israeli border police transferred Muhammad to the Maale Adumim police station for interrogation. Upon arrival, he was taken to a room where he was fingerprinted, weighed and photographed. Still bound, he was taken to the interrogation room where he was accused of throwing stones. Muhammad’s father told DCI-Palestine that when he arrived at the station, he was allowed to enter the interrogation room with his son on the condition that he remained silent the entire time.
Israeli authorities gave Muhammad a confession document written in Hebrew, which he refused to sign. DCI-Palestine evidence shows that children are often shown and forced to sign documents written in Hebrew, a language the overwhelming majority do not understand. In 31 percent of cases in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, children provided a confession at the end of a coercive interrogation in 2012, according to Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCI-Palestine. Following a lengthy interrogation, Muhammad was later given a letter reprinted in Arabic. Due to his state of mental and physical exhaustion, he reluctantly signed the confession to halt the interrogation. At no point was Muhammad told of his right to remain silent or right to have an attorney present.
Muhammad’s father notified the Israeli authorities that Muhammad has enlarged tonsils and adenoids that restrict his breathing and require medication, which he brought with him in a bag. Muhammad told DCI-Palestine that he saw a soldier throw the bag of medication out the window shortly after his father left. After nearly two days of beatings and interrogation, Muhammad was allowed one cup of water to drink, which he was forced to fill himself as he remained handcuffed.
After questioning, Muhammad was transferred to Ofer prison where he was detained in a room with 10 other children for 21 days. During his detention, he faced five court hearings and was released from prison on May 9. He is currently awaiting trial.
Less than a month following his release, Muhammad appears visibly shaken by the abuse and trauma he sustained. His ribs are bruised and the invisible wounds he carries remain open and raw. He worries about being unable to concentrate on his studies and scoring well on his Tawjihi exam next year. This secondary education certification exam determines the future for many Palestinians. “I just can’t remember things the way I used to before it happened,” he states in a subdued tone. He continues to suffer from a throbbing headache and a constricting feeling in his chest that interfere with his sleep and daily activities. Muhammad’s father provided DCI field researchers with medical records and documentation.
The look of apprehension and despair on his parent’s faces echoes his pain. “He wakes up jolted in the middle of the night, screaming,” says his mother. The haunting images and memories replay in his mind disrupting his schoolwork and mental stability, according to the psychological evaluation given to him by Al Marfa Mental Health Association. The frequent raids on Abu Dis by Israeli soldiers create a source of anxiety for Muhammad, considering he could face up to a three year suspended sentence and fine if he is caught anywhere near clashes or engaging in any resistance activity. “He’s afraid to walk to school,” says his father, “so I take him every day, but he’s still afraid they [Israeli forces] will come for him.”
We all profit from the occupation
Haggai Matar Ha’aretz 6/06/2013
Uri Misgav claims that “those who lead the occupation and settlement enterprise” are a “small and determined avant-garde” of the religious Zionist settler movement that has magically succeeded in “imposing its will and values on a silent, confused and paralyzed majority” (“The post-Zionists,” Haaretz, May 31, 2013).
In other words, 46 years after the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Misgav apparently thinks that the silent and innocent majority has simply not been paying attention to what’s happening around it for more than two-thirds of the country’s history. An odd majority, indeed. Perhaps the silent majority might be forgiven its blindness. After all, it was busy. Three documentary films in recent years describe what it’s been busy with.
“The Lab” by Yotam Feldman follows former army officials and academics who became defense exporters, representing about 150,000 families in Israel who make their living directly from the arms industry. “The Gatekeepers” by Dror Moreh features former heads of the Shin Bet security service, who built their careers in the torture cellars. “The Law in These Parts” by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz introduces us to the jurists who laid the legal foundations for the expropriation of land and the separate legal systems for Jews and Arabs. Almost all the men (because there are only men) in these films are secular. Many of them consider themselves humanists or members of the center-left and support territorial compromise. And all of them profit directly from the occupation.
They are not the only ones. In the same paper where Misgav’s column appeared, an article by Amira Hass also appeared about the plan to launder illegal construction, some of it on privately owned Palestinian land, in the settlement of Eli. Hass mentions the architect who prepared the construction plan, which is now in the approval stage at the Civil Administration: Yehoshua Shachar of Tel Aviv. He is not a settler, and as far as anyone knows, he is not a member of the religious-Zionist movement’s avant-garde gang. He’s just a man from Tel Aviv who is helping expand the settlements on Palestinian-owned land, who did not answer Haaretz’s questions. Fairly close to Shachar’s office are the main offices of Israel’s largest banks. Every one of them, without exception, provides mortgages and makes a profit from construction on the stolen land in the West Bank. Nearby are the offices of the high-tech companies that support themselves by selling components used in equipment that controls the Palestinian population. Tel Aviv University, where pilots and Shin Bet personnel study and which engages in army-sponsored academic research in the territories, is there too.
To all these can be added the half-million Israelis who live in the settlements, many of them non- religious but looking for quality of life, who have been pushed to the colonialist suburbs because of the scandalously high housing prices in Israel proper. We can also mention all those building their homes from stone quarried in the West Bank in violation of international law, those who drink the water pumped from the mountain aquifer under the Palestinians’ feet, or those who buy wine from the vineyards on the outposts. Quite a few people benefit from the captive market because of the restrictions imposed on Palestinians merchants, or the cheap labuor of workers dependent on Israel for their livelihood. Indeed, the silent majority is too busy to pay attention to what the religious-settler avant-garde is doing out there, beyond the mountains of darkness.
Misgav’s narrative, which is characteristic of the Zionist left wing, ignores not only the evidence of the silent majority’s collaboration in the settlement enterprise, but also the fact that long before Lapid and Bennett made their pact, governments that were led by, or were partners with Labor (and of course Likud), including governments headed by Yitzhak Rabin, established settlements and encouraged Israelis to live in them. He mentions the parties “to the right of Hatnuah and Meretz” that fawned on the settlers. He does not mention the large public that elected them or that serve their policy in the army.
The story that places all the blame on the settlers helps shift blame and responsibility from the folly in which we are all partners, whether the source of that folly is in 1967 or 1948, in what Misgav calls a “promising point of departure” for the country. The story helps to ignore the resemblance between the settlements in the West Bank and the kibbutzim in the north, or isolated farms in the Negev. It’s a convenient, lulling story that describes a world where the majority just needs to wake up from fifty years of accursed sleep and reclaim the country for itself.
‘Keeping the Population in a State of Constant Uncertainty’
Tamar Fleishman Palestine Chronicle 15/06/2013
“Ten minutes of standing in the line leading to the soldiers’ post and three more minutes of standing in the inspection zone, were enough to grasp how they implement the declared objective of ‘keeping the population in a state of constant uncertainty’” — The words of a high ranking Israeli officer.
People were taken inside the inspection zone in groups of three. Just before me in line was an elder man who placed the few metal objects he carried in his pockets on a plastic tray that was taken away by the conveyer belt inside the metal detector. He presented his ID and passage permit to the soldiers through the bullet proof window. The soldiers, using the computer on their desk, thoroughly examined his identity; they asked over and over again that he presents the ID and ordered him to push the permit through the slot in the wall. The permit passed over to the other side, and as the soldiers took it into their hands it was confiscated. The man froze with a terrified look on his face. “Why?” I asked. “Because”, replied the soldier. “That’s not an answer”, I insisted. “It’s classified” replied the soldier. I insisted. He explained that these orders came from above.
The Palestinian man, whose gaze wondered off from the soldiers over to us, the two Israeli women he had never met and most probably would never meet again, sensed a tone of solidarity as though he expected that his salvation would come from us. And like a person who had his entire world collapse, asked: “What will I do now?”- “Hurry to the DCL, they still haven’t closed”, replied the soldiers. Lost and confused he rushed to make his way through the crowd that massed on the turnstiles outside. His belongings that were earlier placed on the plastic tray: a phone, a key set and some coins, were forgotten.
We hurried after him and through the metal bars handed his possessions over to him.
There was also a woman who came all the way from Nablus. She arrived panting at the checkpoint and she told us that eleven years earlier soldiers had entered her home, shot and murdered her husband, leaving her to take care of ten orphans. Recently, one of her children fell ill and was admitted to Mukased hospital in East Jerusalem, and that is where she was heading to. She was the only one to receive a permit to visit her son from the authorities of occupation. His brothers, being the children of a man murdered by the army, are regarded as a threat to the state of Israel and were prevented from sitting aside their brother’s bed.
Living their shattered lives, the Palestinians are forced to arrive from between the fences and metal bars, all for the sake of their survival. We have only made a few steps alongside them, but it was enough to make us feel upon arriving at the other side as though we have been kicked in the stomach with nailed boots.
Or as an anonymous hand inscribed on the tower: “Shame for The World for this chicpont”(sic).
(As a member of Machsomwatch, once a week Tamar Fleishman heads out to document the checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. This documentation (reports, photos and videos) can be found on the organization’s site: www.machsomwatch.org. The majority of the Spotlights (an opinion page) that are published on the site had been written by her. She is also a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace and volunteer in Breaking the Silence. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.)
Witness to a child arrest in occupied
Hebron 24/06/2013 ISM
“Imagine if your kids, or your brothers, were missing at night and you didn’t know where they were?!” – the whole thing felt disgusting and underhand. Even the way they moved away from the kids when they saw us coming – they must have known that what they were doing was wrong.
Since coming to the West Bank I had heard a lot about the Israeli army detaining and arresting children. Despite this, the first time I saw it myself, I was amazed. Amazed that people – young soldiers – could intimidate, harass and arrest kids. And all done with smiles on their faces.
We were called to the army base on Shuhada Street with a report of two children being detained. We walked down the street, passing checkpoints, getting held up while the soldiers ‘checked’ our passports and hassled us. When we got close to one of the illegal settlements in Hebron, we saw a mob of about ten soldiers down a side road – when we approached they disbanded. As they moved apart we saw that they had been crowded around two young children, around ten years old, who were backed up against a wall.
On our arriva,l a group of soldiers came over to us, laughing and joking with each other, trying to talk to us in broken English. According to them the children had been caught throwing stones in the old souq. It seems laughable to think they’d be so concerned, being covered head to toe in military gear and holding guns. The children were forced to stand apart, in the dark, in an alley full of soldiers for over an hour. We asked the soldiers if they knew where their parents were, if we could talk to them, if we could walk them back into the Palestinian controlled area of Khalil. All of our questions were met with the same answer; “No”.
We sat and waited, waving at the children, making sure they knew we were there to try and help. Attempting to talk to the soldiers was futile; “we’re waiting for further instruction from higher up”, “I love kids, we’re not doing anything wrong”, “I’m just doing my job”. All I could think was: “Imagine if your kids, or your brothers, were missing at night and you didn’t know where they were?!” – the whole thing felt disgusting and underhand. Even the way they moved away from the kids when they saw us coming – they must have known that what they were doing was wrong. That it would seem wrong to the international community if they knew about it.
The two children seemed fairly calm after a while, eventually exchanging jokes and swapping positions when the soldiers weren’t looking. We decided, amongst the five of us that were there, that two should walk back up to the main checkpoint between the Israeli and Palestinian controlled areas. This would be where the children would get taken when/if they were released. My comrade and I walked back up Shuhada Street, the soldiers laughing at us as we left. We of course got stopped for a long time at another checkpoint in between – in fact, long enough to see the soldiers escorting the two children up the road towards us. We could not follow to make sure they were okay as the soldier who had detained us was holding our passports and ‘radioing in’ to ‘confirm our identities’. After about 15 minutes we got our passports back and got to the checkpoint to see the children being ‘posted’ back into the Palestinian controlled area and handed to the Palestinian Authority. The whole thing left me feeling sick. The smiles on the faces of the soldiers, the way they thought it was acceptable – or even normal – to hold children against their will at night, their use of intimidation and blatant abuse of power.
It may not seem like it, but these children were lucky – they were not blindfolded or handcuffed, nor were they were beaten or imprisoned. But others are. The children of the West Bank are learning first hand every day about the brutality of the Occupation. But they are also learning how to resist. I hope that their resistance will create a Palestine where children can play in the streets freely and without fear.
Israeli law tears Palestinian families apart
Miriam Pellicano aljazeera 19/07/2013
More than 14,000 Palestinians have had their residency status revoked in East Jerusalem [Reuters]
East Jerusalem – If Tasneem, 14, a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem, could speak to the Israeli Minister of Interior, she would deliver this message: “Give us the right to be a family and give us the freedom to live. Don’t imprison us.” Tasneem’s family is one of thousands affected by the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which prohibits Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from obtaining permanent or temporary resident status in East Jerusalem or Israel. The citizenship law applies to married couples even when one spouse holds Israeli residency or citizenship.
A system of “quiet deportation” of East Jerusalem families has developed as a result of the restrictive laws applied to Palestinians in the city. Between 1967 and 2011, more than 14,000 Palestinians have had their residency status revoked. Since Israel’s 1967 annexation of East Jerusalem, a move unrecognised by the international community, Palestinians have rarely been granted citizenship rights, only residency rights. Palestinians live with the threat of having their residency revoked.
As a result, a generation of Palestinian children have grown up living in uncertainty and fear. Children tell Defence for Children International Palestine, a local Palestinian child rights organisation, that they are often afraid, sad, or feel different to peers who are afforded different entitlements. For Tasneem, the purpose of the law is clear. “It’s a demographic law,” she explains. “They don’t want more Palestinian people in Jerusalem.”
While the law was first issued as a temporary order in 2003, its enforcement has been extended several times, despite the Israeli High Court of Justice describing it as “a disproportionate violation” of the rights of Arab citizens and residents of Israel. In April this year, the Knesset approved an extension of the citizenship law bringing the prohibition on family reunification into its 11th year.
Living with uncertainty
Parents with residency rights in Jerusalem and a Jerusalem identification card cannot automatically transfer their status to their children.
Alaa, an 11-year-old from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, is currently in the process of applying for residency status, which his mother currently holds. He is in the middle of a lengthy and onerous application process that is required in order to register him with the Interior Ministry. It will be difficult for him to obtain Jerusalem residency status if his family fails to submit the request before his 12th birthday. If they apply after he turns 14, it will be impossible for him to receive any residency status. The convoluted nature of registration has left families with children holding various statuses. Once children turn 18, they are unable to submit an application for child registration or family reunification. This leaves females in particularly vulnerable situations, as it obligates women to live alone or apart from their families, which is contrary to the general customs and traditions of the Palestinian family. Alaa’s mother notices that as he passes through a checkpoint he sinks in his seat and gets tears in his eyes. “I’m afraid that I will be left in the West Bank while the rest of my family stays in East Jerusalem,” he says.
Mohammad Shihabi is a lawyer with the Community Action Centre (CAC), which has an office to support families lodging applications for residency status in East Jerusalem. “If children are not yet on their parent’s ID card, and they are waiting on the process to obtain some kind of status, they can be subject to harassment at the checkpoints,” Shihabi says. “Registration processes can take years, and renewal of permits often requires a security check that may take anywhere from two months to one year. During this time children are particularly vulnerable.”
Palestinian child prisoners ‘abused’
Alaa is on alert when there is trouble in Silwan, which has a growing Jewish settler presence and where arrests of Palestinian children are common. “I am very afraid when children are arrested,” he says. “I stay inside the house when this happens and I don’t move.” Since he is not registered on his mother’s ID, he is worried about what could happen to him.
The citizenship law has deleterious effects on children, including hampering the registration of children of Israeli residents – with a West Bank spouse – the denial of health, education and insurance services, and most importantly, the right to equality and family life. In June 2007, HaMoked and several other human rights organisations filed a petition before the Israeli High Court of Justice challenging the citizenship law. The organisations highlighted the effect it has on children, and that the law not only separates spouses from each other, but also separates parents from their children. Ultimately, the challenge was rejected and the law was upheld.
‘Prisoners in their own city’
The children have not grown used to the idea their father must stay in Eziriya, a suburb separated from Jerusalem due to the annexation. A song played on the children’s channel about fathers disturbs them. “They cry when they hear the song,” she says. “It is very hard on them.” “The families are under a constant state of pressure,” says Rema Rezeq, a coordinator at the CAC’s Women’s Empowerment Unit. “Spouses don’t know if their partner will be granted a permit to enter. Children become upset and distressed that their parent is separated from the family, or are sad when they see how their parents must live. They live with the constant fear that they will never see their parent again.”
Since 2008, there has been an absolute prohibition of family reunification for any person from Gaza over the age of 14. This confines children to living in Gaza without one of their parents, or forces the parent to give up their entitlements in Jerusalem and move to Gaza.
There are potentially 10,000 unregistered children in East Jerusalem, which means they are exempt from a variety of social and education benefits. They are not able to obtain a driver’s licence or permits, and cannot legally seek employment. They live a life in limbo, without either Jerusalem or West Bank identification. This leaves thousands of Palestinians as stateless persons. Their future and security are precarious in the city.
This law exists to insult the people here in Palestine…its purpose is to degrade the Palestinians. Alaa, 11
Sabah, 40, returned to Jerusalem three years ago after separating from her husband in the West Bank. Despite a court order that gives her custody of her children, she can only arrange entrance permits for her children to be with her and not residency status for them. “I am afraid for their future,” says Sabah. “They are high academic achievers, but cannot go to university here. If they go to a University in the West Bank, they will be away from me, and they do not want to live there alone.”
Even if families are issued temporary or entrance permits, their renewal is dependent on a security check that can take anywhere from a few months to a year, which delays the reinstatement of an entrance permit. During renewal periods, entitlements are frozen for children and families, which can leave families without health, education and insurance benefits. “It makes their future education difficult, their movement is restricted, and they cannot marry here,” says Sabah. “My children feel like they are prisoners in their own city.”
Repeated phone calls and emails for comment on this story to the Interior Ministry went unanswered.
Countering the ‘demographic threat’
The revocation of residency rights and the exile and deportation of Palestinians in East Jerusalem is one direct measure the Israeli government implements to counter the “demographic threat” to the state of Israel. Palestinians are at risk of losing their Jerusalem residency if they chose to go overseas to study, work or live. If residents are overseas for more than three years and are unable to prove that their centre of life is in Jerusalem or Israel, they will lose their right to renew or update their ID. Residency can also be revoked if Palestinians naturalise.
In contrast to the precarious status of Palestinians with Jerusalem residency, the Foundation for Middle East Peace reports “a large number of Israelis have dual nationality, including an estimated 500,000 Israelis holding US passports (with close to a quarter-million pending applications).” While Palestinians navigate prohibitive and discriminatory legal and administrative systems to remain in Jerusalem, the Israeli government is financially supporting tens of thousands of immigrants to settle in Israel and illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories.
The Ministry of Immigration Absorption, through their financial assistance programs, provides generous housing, education and health incentives, as well as generous tax exemptions to assist immigrants in their settlement process. While immigrants can take advantage of these generous and attractive incentives, Palestinians are subject to exclusion from the National Insurance Institute (NII) if they cannot comply with measures that target their status and residency rights. They can lose their social and health insurance benefits by not complying with various caveats.
Miriam Pellicano is a consultant with Defence for Children International Palestine
An IDF PR disaster in Hebron in detainment of 5-year-old
Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 19/07/2013
The soldiers who apprehended Wadi’a last week after he allegedly threw rocks at a settler’s car were chastised not for detaining the boy, but for being caught doing so by a rights group’s cameras.
Wadi’a Maswadeh did not know that he managed to stir a few hearts in Israel and the world with his tears, nor did his father, Karam. We didn’t know that Wadi’a was actually a recidivist detainee: He was 5 years and 9 months old when he was detained last week by Israeli soldiers – in front of the cameras of the B’Tselem human rights organization – and it was not his first arrest, but rather his third.
This week the little boy seems to be traumatized: He won’t smile, hardly speaks, shrinks at any attempt to pat his head, grips the electric pole in the street with his tiny hands, is startled at every soldier that passes by, wets his bed at night, wakes up screaming, and refuses to sleep in his home, located across from the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
Wadi’a burst into public awareness, Israeli and international, last weekend after eight armed soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces Givati Brigade detained him on the street and took him with them in their armoured jeep on suspicion of having thrown a rock at the wheels of a car belonging to settlers. The cameras B’Tselem documented the occasion: the detained child crying, with his father, handcuffed and blindfolded, sitting beside him.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office condemned B’Tselem and the documentary work it does.
This week we wanted to go to the weeping child’s home, but Border Police at the Tomb of the Patriarchs checkpoint prevented us from doing so on various pretexts. One of these was: “You can cross over to the house only if the council head escorts you.” So we met in the street, with the boy and his father, exactly on the spot where all of it occurred on Tuesday last week.
Karam, 31, is an occasional construction worker in Hebron and has three children. He has rotting teeth and a workman’s Hebrew. He has spent a cumulative seven years of his life in Israeli prisons, because of violent encounters with the soldiers in the quarter, where Hebron’s tiny Jewish population is situated. Wadi’a and Karam were born in the same rented apartment opposite the Tomb of the Patriarchs, for which the family pays NIS 5,000 a year and from which the father now wishes to escape. Karam would like to move to a part of Hebron under Palestinian control or to Jordan – any place, just so long as his kids don’t go on suffering. He is no longer prepared to go through the saga of humiliations that every Palestinian who lives here is put through, day in and day out, by the soldiers, the Border Police and the settlers. Only two families beside his own remain on his street. All the rest fled in the silent transfer that scared off most of this neighborhood’s non-Jewish occupants, many thousands of people, beginning about a decade ago. The only ones left are those who can’t afford to live somewhere else.
Since 2002, Karam has been barred from working in Israel, so he picks up odd jobs in Hebron and Halhul. That was the case last Tuesday: He was in Halhul when a relative telephoned him to say Wadi’a had been detained.
As mentioned, this was the child’s third detention. Karam says that more than a month ago, soldiers came to their home in the evening and complained that the little boy had gone up on the roof of his house. Ascending to the roof is forbidden, the soldiers declared – and took Wadi’a away with them. The boy was released only at 1 A.M., three hours after being taken into custody. Then he was detained a second time about three weeks ago: Soldiers came to the house and asked where the father was. Karam was not home, but Wadi’a was again taken away for several hours. The IDF Spokesman’s Office released this statement: “The IDF is not familiar with the correspondent’s claims regarding prior arrest or detention. The incident that is described in the video clip is under current investigation, while at the same time, instructions for handling such incidents have been sharpened.”
Karam himself was last released from Israeli prison about six months ago. He was arrested after he tried to return home one evening and a Border Policeman would not let him pass through the checkpoint across from his home. The time, he says now, was a few minutes before 9 P.M. At 9 P.M. all the checkpoints here close, and all the Palestinian residents of the neighborhood are confined to their homes as part of the regular nightly curfew imposed here. The Border Policeman did not let the father go into his house. Words were exchanged, maybe there was some violence as well. The policeman said that Karam was obstructing his ability to carry out his duty and called in other forces. Karam was arrested and sentenced to six months in jail and another two month-banishment from his home; he was compelled to spend those months in Jordan, far from his wife and young children.
Karam says the soldiers invade his home every few days and search the premises. The quarter under Israeli occupation has eight checkpoints, between three and four of them situated along the route Wadi’a’s takes to kindergarten, and violent altercations take place frequently there. Palestinian cars are, of course, forbidden to approach the area. Only those belonging to the settlers. Their children, Karam continues, periodically attack the Palestinian kids, but in such circumstances no one is detained. The last time this happened to Wadi’a was about two weeks ago, when a settler boy around 12 years old beat him on the street when his mother sent him to fetch bread from the grocery store.
Last Tuesday, the eight soldiers with purple berets detained Wadi’a in the street. A settler complained that the child had thrown a rock at his car. Wadi’a claimed he had thrown a rock at a stray dog and that it hit the car’s tire. B’Tselem field researchers Manal al-Jabri and Imad Abu Shamsia, who were in the street at that very moment, attest that a dog was indeed wandering around. The two researchers saw the boy surrounded by the eight soldiers and began documenting the spectacle with their video cameras. Wadi’a was taken into the jeep, escorted by a relative; the video footage shows him weeping copiously and stamping his feet. Karam was still in Halhul and by the time he got home, after being summoned hurriedly, Wadi’a had already been brought home, after officers at the police station to which he had been taken declined to arrest the child.
Karam found his son hiding in a closet at home. The soldiers wanted to detain the child again, this time accompanied by his father; the latter tried to explain to them that they were dealing with a 5-year-old. “The officer of the soldiers was present, and I told him I could not give them the boy, I was willing to come in his place. I asked the officer: ‘Where do you want to take the child?’ And he said: ‘To the police.’ I told him: ‘Bring the police here.’ That whole time Wadi’a was hiding in the closet and crying from fear.”
Finally, the boy and his father were taken on foot to Checkpoint 56, near Beit Hadassah. There the father was handcuffed and blindfolded with a rag, in front of his son. Karam says they wanted to handcuff the child too, and he told the soldiers and policemen: “There is no law that allows handcuffing a 5-year-old boy.” Afterward they kicked Karam, so he relates, showing us an injured knee with black-and-blue marks and sores. With his hands bound, his eyes blindfolded – all of this in the presence of his scared child – he was made to sit on a chair near the checkpoint.
One of the two B’Tselem volunteers in the area, Abu Shamsia, documented this too with his video camera. He and Karam testified that they heard the officer from the Civil Administration, Lt. Col. Avi, who was called to the site, scold the soldiers for detaining the father and son in front of the cameras. He apparently said, “You are new recruits. If you want to do things like this, do it indoors, not in front of the cameras. We’ve had enough scandals already” – or something like that. In the video, whose sound quality is poor, Lt. Col. Avi can be heard saying something about the “hasbara [PR] element.” The footage shows the handcuffed and blindfolded father, his child beside him, and a group of soldiers surrounding them. A settler child wearing a large skullcap peeks out from behind, and a cat suddenly yowls deafeningly.
Officer Avi ordered the two detainees to be transferred to the Palestinian police, where they were released, but not before Karam was forced to sign a guarantee in the amount of 5,000 Jordanian dinars, lest his child throw more stones. Initially he refused to sign, telling the policemen, “this is a little kid,” but his family members persuaded him to do so and get released, and mainly to free the detainee Wadi’a, aged 5 years and nine months.
Scottish Friends of Palestine
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