Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Israel's Repressive ID-Permit System:
Worse than South Africa's
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, ccun.org, May 17, 2010
On April 23, Arizona's racist immigration bill became law. Called
"Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act," it requires proof
of legal entry or citizenship or face arrest, fines, jailing, and/or
Under South African apartheid, pass laws segregated
blacks from whites, restricted their movements, required pass books
be carried at all times, and produced on demand or face arrest and
prosecution. Evolving from the 18th and 19th century until their 1986
repeal, they restricted entry to cities, forcibly relocated blacks, denied
them most public amenities and many forms of employment, and became
apartheid's most hated symbol.
Under Israeli military occupation, repression is
worse than South Africa's. It's a sophisticated form of social,
economic, political and racial discrimination, strangulation, and
genocide, incorporating the worst elements of colonialism and apartheid as
well as repressive dispossession, displacement and state terrorism to
separate Palestinians from their land and heritage, deny them their
rightful civil and human rights, and gradually remove or eliminate them
Apartheid is the worst form of racism. Israeli
militarized occupation is the worst form of apartheid, incorporating
violence, military incursions, land theft, home demolitions, targeted
assassinations, murder, mass arrests, torture, destruction of agricultural
land, and isolation - measures amounting to genocide, including starving
Gazans under siege.
The ID/permit system is one of many elements
designed to make greater Israel an ethnically pure Jewish state.
Israel requires all permanent residents and citizens over 16 to have
color-coded ID cards (called te'udat zehut) for West Bank and Gazan
Palestinians, East Jerusalem ones, Israeli Arabs and Jews.
Palestinians, they dictate where they may live, work, and move, or be
allowed through West Bank checkpoints, to Israel or Gaza. Doing so
requires hard to get permits, easily cancelled without notice. More on
Jews have blue IDs, Palestinians either Israeli-issued
orange ones (in Hebrew) or nearly identical Palestinian Authority-issued
green ones with a PA seal on top, that include the following information:
-- name and ID number;
-- father and mother's names;
-- date and place of birth;
-- gender; and
Prior to 2005,
ethnicity was also included. It's still available on request from state
A separate document includes:
and previous addresses;
-- previous names;
including for permanent resident citizens of other countries;
name, birth date and ID numbers for spouse and children; and
electoral polling stamp.
Since the 1993 Oslo Accords and follow-up
agreements, West Bank Palestinians are prohibited from accessing Jerusalem
health and educational services, the Separation Wall adding more
impediments for thousands of residents on the West Bank side and others in
the Seam Zone - the area east of the Green Line and west of the Wall. They
also lose services, and for Jerusalem residents, access to the city and
Worse still, Seam Zone residents face possible
land annexation to make way for settlement expansions and new ones. They
need permits to live in their homes and till their fields. Others in East
Jerusalem living west of the Wall must cross barriers and have permits to
access other parts of the West Bank.
In theory, Jerusalem
Palestinians may move freely within the city and through most of the West
Bank. In practice, harsh security measures prevent it as well as their
right to work in Israel, pay taxes, and get national insurance benefits.
In addition, their Jerusalem residency isn't guaranteed. If they live
outside the city for seven years, it's revoked, or if Israel wishes,
revocation by military order may come.
Israeli Arabs are citizens,
their ID cards identifying their religion. Again theoretically, they have
free access to the West Bank and Jerusalem. In practice, they're stopped,
questioned, delayed, and denied access to West Bank cities by military
order. The Separation Wall adds other restrictions.
settlement Jews have unrestricted free movement throughout the West Bank
and Jerusalem, unimpeded by the Separation Wall or repressive military
orders, not applicable to them under civil law.
They harass and obstruct free movement as a Kafkaesque
element of control, including:
-- bypass roads for Jews only;
-- permanent and mobile checkpoints, roadblocks, and other barriers
that remain open or close intermittently without notice or explanation;
-- control of all border crossings;
closures anywhere, any time for any reason;
-- the Separation
Wall expropriating 12% of the West Bank as well as isolating communities
from each other;
-- ghettoizing them; and
-- requiring a
discriminatory system of work, internal and external movement permits to
go anywhere -
-- from one community to another;
-- to and
from the West Bank and Jerusalem;
-- to reach Gaza, nearly
impossible under siege;
-- to enter or leave Israel, also nearly
-- go to work, school or shop, access health
care, visit family, and for Seam Zone farmers till land they've owned for
generations - what they face losing to make way for settlement
Permits are also required to build; make home
renovations; grow crops not competing with Israeli ones; open a
factory or business; import equipment; export merchandise; and over
whatever else Israel decides to control - imposed to make daily life
Violence and bureaucratic harshness enforce the
occupation, ongoing illegally since 1967 - to traumatize and intimidate
Palestinians to leave, crush their will, and displace them forcefully if
necessary for Jewish only settlements.
West Bank Palestinians face
daunting restrictions to reach Jerusalem or Israel, given repressive
prohibitions, except under special circumstances rarely granted. To
qualify requires applying and paying for a magnetic card, proving they
have security clearance permission. If granted, they're for short periods
for medical or other emergencies. Few permits are issued for work, and
most medical and other emergency ones are denied.
on their own land in their own country, under military occupation they're
designated "permanent residents," the equivalent of being non-persons.
Traveling abroad requires a special Interior Ministry issued,
"laissez passer," good for one year and renewable (only in Israel) if
granted, but unless return before expiration, it's denied altogether.
To reach Jordan, a valid state passport is needed, documents held by
many West Bank and East Jerusalem residents since the Hashemite Kingdom
administered the Territory.
Since the 1994 Cairo Agreement on
Gaza and the Jericho Area, special permits aren't required, just a
passport and valid PA travel document approved by Israel. But given
intensified repression since September 2000 and the Gaza War, procedures
are easily denied, Israel maintaining tight internal and border control
Until the second Intifada, West Bank residents
could travel from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport with an "airport permit."
Now they're for special emergencies only on humanitarian grounds.
Nonetheless, West Bank residents outside the Territory can't return
easily. Since 1994, reentry permits aren't needed for those temporarily
abroad or in Jordan. But if left before 1994, returning may be denied if
permits expired and weren't renewed, possible only in Israel. From 1967 -
1994, triennial renewals were required.
procedures change often and are uncertain at best - to harass, deny and
Under siege, Gazans are entirely constrained (with few
exceptions), but earlier, with ID and magnetic cards and and a required
permit, travel to Jordan or abroad via Ben Gurion Airport was permitted.
No longer. Israel controls the only Rafah crossing into Egypt, so to
enter requires a hard to get Egyptian visa and Israel's permission,
available only under special circumstances to very few people with no
assurance of reentry on return even though permits aren't required.
Under the Oslo Accords and follow-up agreements, Israel and the PA
maintained a registry of West Bank and Gaza residents, the PA authorized
to issue ID cards and passports (for travel) to West Bank Palestinians,
not Gazans or those in East Jerusalem. Since September 2000, Israel's
Civil Administration Liaison Office handles all permit applications, none
of them easy to get.
Unlike earlier, permission to work in Israel
is hard to impossible as an October 7, 2003 Haaretz article explained,
"It is quite complicated for a Palestinian to get legal
permission to work in Israel. The employer must apply to the authorities,
providing the name of the worker to be employed. The security services
check the worker's history - and there are criteria that anyway must be
met: they must be over 35, have at least five children; and no security
history, which means never having been arrested and preferably none of his
relatives having such a record. If the license is granted, it goes to the
Palestinian Authority Labor Affairs Ministry offices in the district where
the worker lives, and the PA Employment Bureau hands over the license...."
About 2,500 military orders govern
Palestinians, covering virtually everything from bank account withdrawals,
to water rights, land transactions, opening a business, growing onions, to
Order No. 1650 (Prevention of Infiltration) and Order No. 1649 (Security
Effective April 13, they potentially facilitate the
deportation of tens of thousands of West Bank and East Jerusalem
Palestinians and/or their imprisonment for up to seven years.
Those at risk have ID cards showing Gaza their birth place, others born in
the West Bank or abroad who lost their residency status, anyone unable to
prove their legitimate status, foreign-born spouses, and those Israel
targets for any reason to expel them. Earlier, Israeli civil courts
prevented deportations. Military ones now have sole jurisdiction.
Anyone in the West Bank or East Jerusalem "illegally" is an "infiltrator,"
as well as others there without lawful permits. Military commanders have
sole discretion to incrementally or mass expel them, with no way to
challenge as orders will come unexpectedly, providing no time to appeal.
Deportations and/or arrests will follow,
longstanding practices under repressive military occupation affording
justice solely to Jews.
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