Unacceptable practice of the military transforms the West Bank into a closed zone which applies only to Palestinians : the military does not enforce the order regulating Israelis' entry to the West Bank, and settlers in their hundreds of thousands live there without the required permits המוקד להגנת הפרט
27.10.2010
Unacceptable practice of the military transforms the West Bank into a closed zone which applies only to Palestinians : the military does not enforce the order regulating Israelis' entry to the West Bank, and settlers in their hundreds of thousands live there without the required permits
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In 1970, the military issued the "General Entry Permit (No. 5)", regulating the entry and stay of Israeli and foreign residents in the West Bank. The order stipulates that an Israeli cannot relocate to the West Bank, unless "under a personal permit issued by the military commander"; an Israeli who intends to stay in the West Bank for over 48 hours, must gain a "permit of the military commander"; in West Bank areas, an Israeli cannot set up "structures, an encampment, a camp-site […] unless under a personal permit issued by the military commander". The order was never altered and remains to this day in force to the letter.

In July, 2010, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual appealed under the Freedom of Information Act to the coordinator of government activities in the Occupied Territories, regarding the Israelis who stay or live in the West Bank. HaMoked inquired, inter alia, about the number of permits that were issued to Israelis who requested to relocate to the West Bank; the total number of stay permits for visits in the West Bank that were issued to Israelis from the inception of the General Entry Permit; and the total number of personal permits issued for the construction of the aforesaid dwelling facilities.

On October 25, 2010, HaMoked received the response of the IDF spokesperson. The military findings show that not a single person of the hundreds of thousands of settlers living in the West Bank was ever issued any of the permits specified in the military order. And further, that no procedure exists for applying and issuing such licenses and permits, as per the order.

The military's reply affirms that indeed the general entry permit was never amended or updated, and yet, throughout the 40 years since its inception, the military never enforced the order. It seems that prima facie, no Israeli in general, and no settler in particular, was ever charged with violating the terms of the order, and certainly not removed from the West Bank for violating these terms.

The military forcibly transfers Palestinians from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, and prevents them from returning home to the West Bank, on the grounds that this is a closed military area, and anyone who is present, without being a "resident of the Area", must hold a military permit. HaMoked stresses that under military legislation, Palestinians are not required to hold such permits, however, conversely, the express order, which stipulates that Israelis must hold stay permits for the West Bank – is not enforced. Through this practice, which contravenes international law, the military effectively transforms the West Bank to a closed area - applied only to Palestinians.
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