On Tuesday leading human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, released a damning report accusing Israel of violating international law by subjecting East Jerusalem’s Palestinian population to a policy of systematic transfer.
In a direct response to the unorthodox policy, which forces Palestinian families to evacuate their homes, the report stated that the “deportation or forced transfers of any part of the population of an occupied territory could amount to war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
Since the 1967 Six-Day-War, the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem has neither been legally recognised nor accepted in the wider international community. The HRW report found that, since then, almost 15,000 Palestinians from the East Jerusalem area have experienced the revocation of their residency statuses, rendering them unable to continue living in their own birth city. The city’s Palestinian population of more than 300,000 have permanent residency, but most are not Israeli nationals – that would mean recognition and acceptance of Israeli occupation.
The revocations are generally a direct result of spending long periods of time away from the city, which Israel argues means that their “centre of life” is not in Jerusalem.
Just days before the report was released, Palestinian man, Alaa Zayoud, had his citizenship revoked after serving time in prison for attempted murder. Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, reported that the ruling was the first of its kind; observing that it “sets a most dangerous precedent. It is no coincidence that the concerned individual is an Arab citizen. There has never been a request to revoke the citizenship of a Jewish citizen, even when Jewish citizens were involved in serious and grave crimes.” Adalah noted that they will be appealing the decision to the Supreme Court.
Human Rights Watch interviewed several Jerusalem families whose residency was revoked earlier this year. They described “being unable to legally work; obtain social welfare benefits; attend weddings and funerals; or visit gravely ill relatives abroad, for fear Israeli authorities would refuse to allow them to return home.”