Israeli forces unlawfully transfer 16 Palestinians

The Israeli occupying forces informed PCHR’s lawyers today that they have begun proceedings to transfer 16 Palestinians being held under Israeli military administrative detention orders from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. The 16 Palestinians were being held in administrative detention in Israeli military detention facilities on suspicion of providing assistance to Palestinians who were involved in attacks against Israeli targets.

Major General Moshe Kaplinski, GOC of the Israeli military Central Command, which includes the West Bank, today issued an order effectively transferring the 16 individuals from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. In accordance with the order, the 16 have already been transported to detention facilities at the Erez military compound where they were supposed to be handed the signed transfer order.

PCHR’s lawyer, Tameem Younis, was refused access to the detainees at the Erez military compound this afternoon. According to the order, the detainees will be held for 48 hours at Erez during which time they will be granted an opportunity to appeal the transfer order if they wish. They will then be transferred into the Gaza Strip.

PCHR condemns this latest incidence of unlawful transfer of Palestinians. The unlawful transfer of protected persons within occupied territory constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, article 147, and a war crime, as further clarified in article 85 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions.

In August 2002, the Israeli military first issued an “assigned residence” order to unlawfully transfer Palestinians within the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The order was first used in September 2002 to unlawfully transfer Kifah and Intisar Ajouri to the Gaza Strip from the West Bank for a period of two years.

The Israeli military claimed that the Ajouris had assisted their brother, Ali Ajouri, who the Israeli military accused of involvement in attacks against Israeli targets. Israeli authorities argued that “assigned residence” orders are used to “deter” relatives and others from assisting Palestinians involved in attacks against Israeli targets. An Israeli Supreme Court ruling on 3 September 2002 upheld the “assigned residence order” and the Ajouris were transferred the following day.

PCHR reiterates its view that the Israeli military “assigned residence” order (amended Israeli military order no.387 - Amendment no.84/order no. 510) is illegal on several accounts, including its use as a punitive/deterrent measure and as a denial of rights to a fair trial, including the right to an effective appeal, failure to disclose “evidence” to the defense, and use of confessions extracted under torture.

PCHR calls for the immediate cessation of these proceedings, and the withdrawal of the “assigned residence” order. PCHR further calls for the cessation of all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including war crimes, perpetrated by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.