CALL FOR LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL MOBLIZATION TOWARDS:
- Israeli High Court Decision on 22 April 1999;
- Special UN Session on Israeli Violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention in June 1999;
Following the initial refusal by the Israeli Interior Ministry to release current data on ID card confiscation from Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem, the data was finally provided to the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz (see also: Amira Hass, Ha’aretz, 2-3-99):
Jerusalem ID-Card Confiscation 1996 – 1998: Official Israeli Data
- 1998 - 788 (of them):
- Palestinians living abroad: 618
- Palestinians living in the West Bank: 170
In comparison to:
- 1997 - 606
- 1996 - 689
Based on the new 1998 data:
a) The number of ID card confiscations increased dramatically in the last quarter of 1998 (official cases reported for January-August 1998 were 346).
b) The number of Palestinian Jerusalemites evicted by ID card confiscation between 1996 – 1998 stands at 2,083 families, i.e. roughly 8,368 individuals.
CALL FOR MOBILIZATION:
Israeli High Court Decision on ID Card Confiscation Scheduled for 22 April 1999 – UN Investigation of Israeli Violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention Scheduled for June 1999.
Almost one year ago (6 April 1998), a group of Israeli lawyers and human rights organizations submitted their petition against the Interior Ministry’s policy of confiscating ID cards of Palestinian Jerusalemites. Working against a reality full of unfavorable legal precedents, the petitioners (Hotline, ACRI, PHR, AIC, DCI-Israel, Atty Lea Tsemel) carefully prepared their argument over a period of more than one year. One year later, on 22 April 1998, the Israeli High Court will give its verdict in what is likely to represent the last chance for challenging the policy of ID card confiscation in the Israeli legal system.
A High Court decision which puts an end to the Interior Ministry’s policy of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem is needed more than ever. Irrespective of local and international protests, the Israeli Interior Ministry continues to confiscate ID cards of Palestinian Jerusalemites. According to official Israeli figures, the number of ID cards confiscated in 1998 marks a record high since the 1996, when Israel first introduced this policy.
Not only is the ever increasing scope of ID card confiscations a cause for concern, but also the fact that more and more Israeli institutions and ministries have joint in coordinated action for the implementation of this policy of ethnic cleansing. The core of this Israeli network is represented by the National Insurance Institute (NII), which – according to Israeli law – is authorized to conduct field investigations in order to determine whether applicants for public welfare services actually reside within Israel. The NII, based on a loose interpretation of its mandate, has been using the information gathered by its field workers in East Jerusalem not only to determine entitlement to NII services, which are conditioned by residency but also passes its field reports on to the Interior Ministry, which then uses the NII data to decide whether or not Palestinian Jerusalemites are eligible for holding a Jerusalem ID card. (see also: report by B’tselem/Hamoked, September 1998). Since the NII is also responsible for the processing of applications for Israeli state health insurance provided by the Ministry of Health, it is not surprising that the Ministry of Health has also begun to cancel Palestinian beneficiaries from its computer (al-Quds, 17-2-1999).
The Israeli policy of ethnic cleansing, based on increased sophistication and coordination among Israeli institutions, thus has come to combine deprival of public health and welfare services with ID card confiscation. This combined policy effects almost every sphere of life of Palestinian Jerusalemites, even before their ID cards are actually and physically confiscated by the Interior Ministry.
It is time to prove to the Israeli authorities and the public that the forceful eviction of Palestinian Jerusalemites is neither possible nor permissible! The Israeli policy of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, is a gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Successful mobilization against the renewed approval by the Israeli High Court of the policy of ID card confiscation will contribute – if not to a favorable decision by the court – towards preparing the ground for the special UN examination of Israeli violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention scheduled for June 1999.
BADIL Resource Center will continue updating on local mobilization against Jerusalem ID card confiscation.