Yesterday I wrote briefly about the new military order in the West Bank that allows the IDF the ability to try Palestinians in military and not civilian courts. The result is easier deportation to Gaza or elsewhere or up to seven years in jail. Predictably, there has been some severe blowback to this new military order. Islamic Jihad (which recently renounced the use of rockets), Fatah and the PLO all denounced the new order and a group of 10 Israeli rights groups wrote a letter to DM Ehud Barak urging him to rescind the order.
Joseph Dana of the peace group Ta’ayush slams the new military rule as evidence that Israel prefers occupation to democracy:
With the new laws that are set to go into place, effectively the entire West Bank with be a closed military zone and Israeli civilian courts will not be able rule on decisions about the illegal use of the “closed military zone” by the IDF to harass Palestinians. This new ruling reflects the relative sucuess of groups like Ta’ayush and the Anarchists Against the Wall to prove that that the “closed military zone” order is illegal and used incorrectly by the IDF in many cases. The order will state that the IDF has the right to deport or remove anyone classified as an “infiltrator”. An “infiltrator” is defined 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.” This can easily be applied to any left wing activist engaged in activity with Palestinians either in protest or helping with agricultural work. We are now dealing with an entire new set of laws that are only subject to military courts. We can be arrested (foreign nationals deported) with no chance to visit a civilian court or appeal to the rulings of the Israeli High Court.
Over at the Promise Land, Noam makes five very important points about this new military order: (1) the new law expands IDF control over the West Bank and is evidence of Israel not respecting the Oslo Accords; (2) the military order is a clear attempt to control the Palestinian population in addition to Palestinian land; (3) while the order is not likely to result in the deportation of thousands, it is a very effective way to target peace activists and to limit the capacity for non-violent protest (a point I made yesterday); (4) the order was implemented when the West Bank was peaceful – Fatah and the West Bank government are cooperating with Israel and the result is further punishment; and (5) the order does not apply to Jewish people.
[tweetmeme] Personally, I think the most telling of these five point is number four. If this is indeed a reaction to Palestinian behavior, it is a reaction to peaceful protests and the occasional stone thrower. The order has effectively undermined the ability of the PA to govern the parts of the West Bank that are ostensibly under PA authority. The decision to make the entire West Bank a military area undercuts the cooperation of the PA and provides a disincentive to cooperation.
Furthermore, given that this order was given in a time of peace in the West Bank, it seems clear that the order is targeting the peace activists. As Joseph Dana pointed out, the new military order gives the IDF to deport or imprison non-violent peace activists almost arbitrarily.
On a related note, this is a video interview of Michel Warschawski, writer and founder of Alternative Information Center, about his life growing up – his parents stories of growing up in occupied France and his experiences in occupied Palestine. Tip of the hat to Paul Woodward who writes:
For those of us who in a practical sense really don’t know what it means to be living under a military occupation, “the occupation” — as Israel’s military control of the West Bank has come to be known — has after 43 years acquired an ambiance of normality. Yet as an Israeli such as Michel Warschawski understands, to be living under occupation, resonates for many Jews with their own experience of living in German-occupied Europe.
Parts 2-5 can be seen here.
Photo from Electronic Intifada