The Jerusalem Center for Social & Economic Rights (JCSER) strongly condemns the deportation of Ali Amin Salem Shqeirat, 42, a resident of the Jabal Al-Mukabber neighborhood, south of Occupied Jerusalem, to the West Bank city of Bethlehem, with the Israeli authorities citing ‘illegal residency’, on Tuesday, 23 September 2003.
The deportation of Ali Shqeirat is a dangerous precedent that may affect thousands of Palestinians married to female Jerusalemites and who live in Jerusalem without Israeli authorization, while awaiting the Israeli Interior Ministry’s approval of their family reunification applications.
The Center warns of the humanitarian consequences of such measure on thousands of Jerusalemite families whose fathers are threatened with deportation either to the West Bank or outside the region. It calls on the Interior Ministry to retract its decision of 31 March 2002 to ‘freeze’ Palestinian residents’ family reunification applications, and which was approved by the Israeli government in May 2002. The only solution to this problem is to approve these applications; it must be stressed that deportation and dispersion of families are illegal measures and in clear violation of international laws and conventions.
‘Last night, an Israel military force came to our family’s home in Jabal Al-Mukabber. My husband and I were taken to the police station in the neighborhood. I was released after I was investigated for several hours, while my husband was taken to the military checkpoint at the northern entrance of Bethlehem, known as ‘Gilo’. He then was handed to the Israeli soldiers who told him to go to Bethlehem [which lies not far away but is surrounded by check-points] and not to enter Jerusalem, because he did not have a residency permit,’ Mrs. Shqeirat reported.
Ali Shqeirat, who is married and the father of five children, was born in Jabal Al-Mukabber. Like many other residents of the neighborhood, he was not included in the Israeli census, which was conducted immediately after the occupation of East Jerusalem in June 1967. Those who were not included in the census were given West Bank ID cards and the neighborhood was later divided into two parts: Sawahereh Al-Gharbiyyeh [currently known as Jabal Al-Mukabber], whose residents hold Jerusalem ID cards; and Sawahreh Ash-Sharqiyyeh whose residents hold West Bank ID cards.
The deportation is the most recent example of the Israeli authorities’ application of harsh and unjustified measures against native residents of the Jerusalem area.