Media Statement: Israeli Infiltration Order 1650

The South African Government has taken note, with the greatest concern, of the Israeli Military Order 1650, entitled “Prevention of Infiltration”, that came into effect on  13 April 2010.  This further exacerbates the already fragile situation in Palestine. It would appear that the Military Order places the expulsion and criminal proceedings against certain classes of Palestinians, under the sole jurisdiction of Israeli military courts. The new order reportedly defines anyone who enters the West Bank illegally as an infiltrator, as well as "a person who is present in the area and does not lawfully hold a permit.

The instructions are also unclear over whether the permits referred to are those currently in force, or also refer to new permits that military commanders might issue in the future. The provisions are also unclear about the status of bearers of West Bank residency cards, and would seem to disregard the existence of the Palestinian Authority and the agreements Israel signed with it and the PLO. According to the provisions, "a person is presumed to be an infiltrator if he is present in the area without a document or permit which attest to his lawful presence in the area without reasonable justification." Such documentation, it says, must be "issued by the commander of IDF forces in the Judea and Samaria area or someone acting on his behalf."

South Africa sees the above stipulations and the Military Order as a gross violation of an individual’s human rights, and it is reminiscent of pass laws under apartheid South Africa. South Africa, because of its history, is particularly sensitive to the infringement of human rights that the carrying of a permit implies and should this “permit” not be the correct one, the unilateral punishments that can be brought to bear on an individual by the state, without the individual having recourse to an independent court of law.

This situation is unacceptable as it will further entrench Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. South Africa notes the fears raised by President Abbas and the Arab League which call on Israel to revoke this order, and adds its voice to a growing international condemnation of Israeli actions against Palestine.

South Africa therefore, in the strongest possible terms calls on Israel to create an environment that is conducive to negotiations and not one that intensifies the mistrusts between Israelis and Palestinians and to honour the commitments it signed up to in the Oslo Peace Accords.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Private Bag x 152, Pretoria, 0001

21 April 2010.


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