Israeli Military Appeals Committee upholds unlawful transfer order

An Israeli military appeals committee today issued a decision to uphold an “assigned residence” order issued against 5 Palestinians from the West Bank on 14 October 2003.  The original order, signed by Major General Moshe Kaplinski, GOC of the Central Command, subjected a total of 18 Palestinians to periods of “assigned residence” in the Gaza Strip, effectively transferring them from their places of residence in the West Bank. 

All 18 Palestinians are registered to the West Bank and were being held in administrative detention by the Israeli military at the time the order was signed.  All 18 are detained on suspicion of involvement in attacks against Israeli targets.  No evidence has been disclosed to support these accusations.

Today’s decision was in respect of the following five detainees: Lu’ai Mohammed Dawoud; Munther Mohammed El-Joa’bah; Ghanem Tawfiq Salama; Taha Rammadan Duweik; and Kamal Mohammed Idriss.

PCHR, together with Ad-Dameer Association for Human Rights and several human rights lawyers, submitted appeals in respect of the detainees to the Israeli Military Appeals Committee.  Three Military Appeals Committees were convened to hear appeals on behalf of the 18 detainees.  The decisions of the remaining two committees are expected in the coming days.  PCHR is concerned that these two committees will reach similar decisions rejecting the appeal.  PCHR has repeatedly condemned Israeli Military Appeals Committees as failing to constitute an effective and impartial appeals body within the meaning of international law.  Decisions from Military Appeals Committees can be appealed within 48 hours to the High Court of Justice.

Following today’s decision, PCHR, in cooperation with other lawyers, will submit a further appeal to the High Court of Justice in Israel within the next 48 hours.

PCHR repeats its condemnation of the use of “assigned residence” orders by the Israeli military.  PCHR considers that these “assigned residence” orders constitute unlawful transfers within the meaning of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, 1949.  The unlawful transfer of a protected person also constitutes a grave breach of the Convention (article 147), and a war crime, as further clarified in article 85 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.

PCHR thus calls upon the Israeli military to immediately rescind these “assigned residence” orders and halt all other grave breaches of international humanitarian law.  PCHR further repeats its call to the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take immediate steps to intervene to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people.