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  • Published: Monday, May 3, 2010 - 10:50 AM

Illegal immigration and deportation procedures on the West Bank

By Missing Peace

On April 11 the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz published an article from reporter Amira Hass titled “ IDF order will enable mass deportations from West Bank”

The article 1 discussed new regulations to ban illegal immigration from the West Bank.
Hass concluded that the regulations would mean the real possibility of deportations of large groups of Palestinians from the West Bank and blamed Israel for “allowing criminal measures and the mass expulsion of people from their homes”.
Within 24 hours hundreds of websites all over the world circulated the article with or without comments.
Respected newspapers around the world published the story under headlines like “Draconian army orders in Israel“ or “Palestinians face new mass deportation”.



In Europe members of the Green party in the EU parliament submitted questions to EU minister of Foreign affairs Catherine Ashton. They demanded action based on the assumption that the order was an Israeli breach of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The Arab league convened in Cairo after Syrian president Assad demanded action against the planned ‘ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people’.
PA spokesman Saeb Arekat called the order : “the tool of an apartheid state” and “an assault on ordinary Palestinians, and an affront to the most fundamental principles of human rights”.

The real story

An investigation into the Ha’aretz’ article once again 2 cast doubt on Hass’ reliability as a source of information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
First Hass failed to mention the complete statement which the IDF issued after the report was published. However, CNN did mention 3 the part of the statement which made clear that the order in fact was meant to be a correction to ensure judicial oversight of the extradition process.
Second, Order 1649 and Order 1650, both enacted and published on 13 October 2009, amend and update existing legislation regarding illegal infiltration, most particularly Order 329, dating from 29 June 1969. (Appendix 1)


This original Order (Order 329), intended to prevent illegal infiltration into the West Bank, sets out the sanctions relating to unlawful residents into the area, and provides that such infiltrators can be repatriated.

The new Orders were enacted following rulings made by Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ 2737/04 and HCJ 7607/05), which recommended that an internal judicial oversight mechanism be established as an additional layer of scrutiny over any repatriation decision

The Orders apply to unlawful residents, defined as those who enter the area unlawfully or who remain in the area without a lawful permit. A lawful permit includes “a permit issued by the military commander or authorized by him pursuant to Israel’s military legislation or by the Israeli authorities pursuant to the Entry into Israel Law”. Population registry documentation issued by the Palestinian Authority pursuant to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement 1995 also falls into the category of lawful permits 4. Accordingly, and contrary to some misleading reports, any individual registered in the Population Registry of the West Bank, remains a lawful resident of the area.

Population registry documentation issued by the Palestinian Authority in accordance with the Interim Agreement fall under the category of permits issued pursuant to authority delegated by the Military Administration. See Interim Agreement, Annex III, Schedule 1, Article 28(1): “Powers and responsibilities in the sphere of population registry and documentation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be transferred from the military government and its Civil Administration to the Palestinian side”, and Military Order No. 7 (1995) regarding implementation of the Interim Agreement.

Any individual who is detained pending repatriation must be brought before this Committee, not later than eight days from the issuance of the Order (four days if the individual is under 18 years of age).

As for infiltrators who are not in detention (and who under the prior legislation would have been subject to immediate repatriation) the Orders provide that, unless they are detected immediately following their infiltration in which case they may be returned to their country of origin, they must be given a period of at least 72 hours prior to repatriation. This period is intended to enable them to take advantage of the option of petitioning Israel’s Supreme Court, ensuring that even individuals who are not brought before the oversight Committee are given an option of judicial review.

Deportations elsewhere in the world

The concept of deportations of illegal aliens exists in most countries in the world.
In almost every Western country, stricter procedures have been implemented since September 11, 2001.

In less democratic countries in the Middle East, people are often stripped of their civil rights for political reasons. For instance hundreds of Palestinians in Jordan recently lost their Jordanian citizenship. During and after the first Gulf war 400,000 Palestinians were deported from Kuwait. After the fall of Saddam Hussein thousands of Palestinians were expelled from Iraq. Some 3000 of them still are trapped in refugee camps on the Syrian – Iraq border 5.


Illegal immigration in Israel

A study by the University of Haifa 6 revealed that after the signing of the Oslo accords illegal immigration became a major problem in Israel within and beyond the Green Line (former armistice lines before 1967).
Data from the Israeli Ministry of Interior Affairs and the Israeli Ministry of Justice show that 77,955 illegal immigrations took place in 1993-2004 in the West Bank and Gaza.
These illegal immigrants entered Israel legally on tourist permits but stayed after their permits expired.


Estimates from the Palestinian Authority and the UN even mentioned a number of 400,000 illegal immigrants in this period.
In Jerusalem, some 50,000 Palestinians moved illegally to the west side of the security fence in the period 2002-2004. These Palestinians apparently preferred not to live under the eventual rule of the Palestinian Authority in case of a final status agreement.
In none of these cases Israel did react with mass deportations of illegal immigrants.
In fact the Government of Israel has undertaken, at the request of the Palestinian Authority, to regularize the status of Palestinians and foreigners in the West Bank. In recent years, particularly in 2006 through 2008, some 32,000 Palestinians and foreigners who were unlawfully residing in the West Bank have been included in the population registry as part of this process.

Palestinians from Gaza always needed a special permit to reside in the West Bank. The new Order does not affect this rule.
The number of residents without permits who have been required to move back to Gaza from the West Bank in recent years has been low (in 2008, 48 individuals, and in 2009, 32) and the Orders do not signify any change in either the legal situation or policy.

Since Orders 1649 and 1650 came into effect two deportations from the West Bank have taken place.
One of the deportations concerned a Palestinian who was deported immediately after he was released from jail.
HaMoked, an Israeli organization which defends the rights of Palestinians, did not mention the reasons for the deportations on its website.
At the moment eight candidates for repatriation are in detention – all suspected of involvement in terrorist activity. All eight candidates have been brought before the new oversight Committee and their cases are being considered in accordance with the new Orders.


Based on the data mentioned in this report the conclusion is obvious that the Israeli order in no way constituted a preparation for mass deportation of the Palestinian population from the West Bank. Israel in fact helped legalize the majority of illegal immigrants to the West Bank.
History has proven that even during the years of armed conflict in the second intifada, Israel did not resort to deportation of groups of Palestinians. The new regulations in fact constitute an internal judicial oversight mechanism that has been established as an additional layer of scrutiny over any repatriation decision.

Appendix 1

Order 1649: In accordance with the High Court’s recommendation, this Order establishes a new oversight Committee. Any individual who is detained pending repatriation must be brought before this Committee, not later than 8 days from the issuance of the order (4 days if the individual is under 18 years of age).

The Order provides the Committee with extensive powers, including the authority to cancel repatriation orders, release detainees and so on. It also sets out the rights of individuals appearing before the Committee, including the right to be represented by the person of their choice, and the right to make submissions in writing.

In the event that the Committee decides not to release the detainee, the Order provides that the detainee must be brought before the Committee again for review of the case within 60 days (30 days if under 18 years of age).

It should be stressed that the establishment of the new Committee does not in any way prejudice the right of an individual to petition the High Court of Justice for review of any decision made in their regard, and adds a new and additional layer of oversight, as recommended by the High Court of Justice.


Order 1650: This Order amends the provisions of the original Order from 1969. It clarifies the definition of illegal infiltration, providing that an individual in possession of a lawful certificate or permit to be present in the areas cannot be considered an unlawful resident. At the same time, it removes the restriction in the original order providing that illegal infiltration was only relevant in relation to infiltration from a limited list of countries.

The Order significantly reduces the sanctions applicable in respect of unlawful residents (for example, reducing the maximum sentence from 15 to seven years) and also provides that, even prior to the issuance of a repatriation order, the subject of the order must be given the opportunity to make arguments, and that these must be brought before the Military Commander.

The Order further provides that the subject of a repatriation order must be provided with information, as far as possible in a language they understand, regarding their rights, including the right to notify a friend or lawyer.

The Order also provides that, unless an infiltrator is detected immediately following his infiltration, repatriation orders can only come into effect 72 hours following their issuance – and that this period may be extended at the request of the subject of the order.

Regarding the costs of repatriation, the Order provides that unlawful residents may be required to bear such costs, but that they cannot exceed 7,500 NIS. This provision reflects the current legal situation in Israel. It should also be noted that the Committee established under Order 1649 is authorized to waive these costs.

  1. http://missingpeace.eu/en/2011/05/bashing-israel-on-behalf-of-the-protestant-church/
    Bashing Israel on behalf of the Protestant Church | missingpeace.eu/en
    on May 2, 2011 at 10:04 am wrote:

    […] Her information was based on a Ha’aretz Amira Hass article that was full of false claims, as was proven in a Missing Peace investigation. […]