After the abduction of the three Israeli youths, Israel imposed a blanket ban on foreign travel by thousands of West Bank Palestinians: the military rejects HaMoked’s claims of collective punishments and insists the travel bans were imposed “on an individual basis” המוקד להגנת הפרט
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05.10.2014
After the abduction of the three Israeli youths, Israel imposed a blanket ban on foreign travel by thousands of West Bank Palestinians: the military rejects HaMoked’s claims of collective punishments and insists the travel bans were imposed “on an individual basis”
After the abduction of the three Israeli youths, Israel imposed a blanket ban on foreign travel by thousands of West Bank Palestinians: the military rejects HaMoked’s claims of collective punishments and insists the travel bans were imposed “on an individual basis”
From June to August 2014, HaMoked received dozens of calls from West Bank residents who had been denied travel abroad by Israel. In most cases, these were Palestinians who live abroad and had come to the West Bank to visit family during Ramadan and Id al-Fitr. When the time came to return home and they went to the Allenby Bridge border crossing – the only gateway abroad for West Bank Palestinians, Israel refused to let them leave. When they contacted the District Coordination Office to find out what was going on, they were told that they were under a “foreign travel ban” until August 1, 2014. When they asked again, after that date, they were told that the ban would be removed only on September 1, 2014.

On August 13, 2014, HaMoked sent an urgent letter to the Minister of Defense, demanding the immediate removal of what appeared to be an arbitrary, blanket foreign travel ban imposed on Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip, which amounted to collective punishment. HaMoked also demanded that the army publish the order pursuant to which the blanket ban had been imposed and inform the affected population thereof. On August 20, 2014 having received no response, HaMoked contacted the State Attorney’s Office, stating its intent to take legal action should the ban fail to be removed.

On August 24, 2014, the State Attorney responded that the letter had been transferred to the “relevant officials” at the Civil Administration for response, and that they would respond directly. On the same day, HaMoked’s staff member spoke on the phone with Lieut. Col. Wisam Hamed from the Civil Administration, who said that 30,000 West Bank Palestinians were put under a travel ban after the abduction of three Israelis, but that the ban had been recently lifted. However, the reason for imposing the ban, the legal basis for it and whether or not it had been publicized, remained a mystery.

This is the place to note that according to the Crossings Administration of the Palestinian police, from June 13, 2014 to August 13, 2014, no fewer than 3,394 Palestinians who tried crossing Allenby Bridge to Jordan were turned away because of a security preclusion. By comparison, throughout 2013, only 1,266 Palestinians were turned away by the Israeli authorities at Allenby Bridge.

Given the severe violation of the basic rights of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, HaMoked sent a letter to the head of the Civil Administration on September 1, 2014, clarifying that it was still waiting for an immediate response to the unanswered questions.

On October 1, 2014, HaMoked received the response of the Civil Administration Public Liaison Officer, stating that: “over the last few months, as part of Operation Brother’s Keeper, foreign travel bans have been entered against residents of the Area of Judea and Samaria”. But the bans were issued “on an individual basis and in keeping with professional – security criteria”. In other words, contrary to what a top official in the same Civil Administration said a month earlier, no blanket ban on foreign travel by West Bank Palestinians had ever been imposed. The public liaison officer added that: “given the improvement in security conditions, a process of removing many of these travel bans has been carried out by security officials”, this too, “following individual examination”.

Given the Civil Administration’s response, one cannot but wonder how security officials managed to individually examine 30,000 Palestinians overnight, both when imposing the ban and when lifting it, or is it that the military has a policy of covering up after the fact? A letter to this effect was sent to the public liaison officer at the Civil Administration.
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From June to August 2014, HaMoked received dozens of calls from West Bank residents who had been denied travel abroad by Israel. In most cases, these were Palestinians who live abroad and had come to the West Bank to visit family during Ramadan and Id al-Fitr. When the time came to return home and they went to the Allenby Bridge border crossing – the only gateway abroad for West Bank Palestinians, Israel refused to let them leave. When they contacted the District Coordination Office to find out what was going on, they were told that they were under a “foreign travel ban” until August 1, 2014. When they asked again, after that date, they were told that the ban would be removed only on September 1, 2014.

On August 13, 2014, HaMoked sent an urgent letter to the Minister of Defense, demanding the immediate removal of what appeared to be an arbitrary, blanket foreign travel ban imposed on Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip, which amounted to collective punishment. HaMoked also demanded that the army publish the order pursuant to which the blanket ban had been imposed and inform the affected population thereof. On August 20, 2014 having received no response, HaMoked contacted the State Attorney’s Office, stating its intent to take legal action should the ban fail to be removed.

On August 24, 2014, the State Attorney responded that the letter had been transferred to the “relevant officials” at the Civil Administration for response, and that they would respond directly. On the same day, HaMoked’s staff member spoke on the phone with Lieut. Col. Wisam Hamed from the Civil Administration, who said that 30,000 West Bank Palestinians were put under a travel ban after the abduction of three Israelis, but that the ban had been recently lifted. However, the reason for imposing the ban, the legal basis for it and whether or not it had been publicized, remained a mystery.

This is the place to note that according to the Crossings Administration of the Palestinian police, from June 13, 2014 to August 13, 2014, no fewer than 3,394 Palestinians who tried crossing Allenby Bridge to Jordan were turned away because of a security preclusion. By comparison, throughout 2013, only 1,266 Palestinians were turned away by the Israeli authorities at Allenby Bridge.

Given the severe violation of the basic rights of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, HaMoked sent a letter to the head of the Civil Administration on September 1, 2014, clarifying that it was still waiting for an immediate response to the unanswered questions.

On October 1, 2014, HaMoked received the response of the Civil Administration Public Liaison Officer, stating that: “over the last few months, as part of Operation Brother’s Keeper, foreign travel bans have been entered against residents of the Area of Judea and Samaria”. But the bans were issued “on an individual basis and in keeping with professional – security criteria”. In other words, contrary to what a top official in the same Civil Administration said a month earlier, no blanket ban on foreign travel by West Bank Palestinians had ever been imposed. The public liaison officer added that: “given the improvement in security conditions, a process of removing many of these travel bans has been carried out by security officials”, this too, “following individual examination”.

Given the Civil Administration’s response, one cannot but wonder how security officials managed to individually examine 30,000 Palestinians overnight, both when imposing the ban and when lifting it, or is it that the military has a policy of covering up after the fact? A letter to this effect was sent to the public liaison officer at the Civil Administration.
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