- The 1907 Hague Convention's Article 43 and Fourth Geneva's
Article 64 require that occupied territory penal laws stay in force, applicable
to both occupier and occupied. However, since 1967, Israel issued over
2,500 Military Orders, controlling daily life solely for Palestinians,
not settlers, the military commander having final authority over institutionalized
discrimination, suppressing democratic freedoms, including free expression
and right to gather peacefully to protest.
- Under Israel's 1967 Military Order No. 101 ("Order
Regarding Prohibition of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda Actions"
as amended), gatherings of more than 10 Palestinians are prohibited without
advance IDF notice, including names of participants, those in violation
subject to 10 years imprisonment, a heavy fine, or both. The order implies
that Palestinians have no legal right to demonstrate, express views freely,
or engage in nonviolent peaceful protests.
- Even Jews aren't exempt when supporting Arabs, Haaretz
writer Nir Hasson (on July 10) headlining "Unprecedented police brutality
at East Jerusalem protest" saying:
- "Some 300 left-wing activists clashed with police
July 9 during the weekly" Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood protests."
Every weekend, Israelis join Arabs for a just Jerusalem, demonstrating
against settler activity, decrying their takeover of area homes.
- Over 40 public figures, including jurists, academics,
intellectuals, and writers co-signed a letter, accusing the district police
of "illegal and inequitable" conduct, demanding Attorney General
Yehuda Weinstein investigate unequal treatment "based on political
- Among the signatories are former Attorney General Michael
Ben-Yair, retired Judge Boaz Okun, former Education and Justice Minister
Amnon Rubinstein, legal scholar Mordechai Kremnitzer, and former head of
the Israel Bar Association, Shlomo Cohen, among others, over 40 in all
defending peaceful Sheikh Jarrah demonstrations, begun months ago, resulting
in over 120 arrests and dozens of indictments.
- After the courts ruled dispersing them illegal, police
changed tactics, erecting barriers selectively, permitting those supporting
settlers, not their opponents, highlighted last Jerusalem Day (commemorating
the city's reunification in June 1967) when police let hundreds of religious
extremists rally all day and night, calling for revenge against Gentiles
near Palestinian homes. At the same time, Arab supporters were removed,
some arrested, including Jews, many targeted violently two days later for
protesting seated in streets, police a de facto armed militia for extremism,
defiantly violating international law.
- The Right to Demonstrate
- In July, the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem published
a position paper titled, "The Right to Demonstrate in the Occupied
Territories," explaining that Palestinian, Israeli, and international
activists protest regularly against the Separation Wall - in recent months,
Israel reacting harshly against them.
- Dozens have been arrested, many indicted. On February
17, 2010, OC Central Command signed two "Declaration Regarding Closure
of Area" orders, designating those adjacent to the Wall in Bil'in
and Ni'lin closed military areas every Friday from 8AM - 8PM when demonstrations
- In its paper, B'Tselem examined "the theoretical
framework of the right to demonstrate in international law, Israeli law,
and the military law," applying to Palestinians, not Israelis, governed
by civil law - affirmed in Israeli case law as a basic right based on High
- Freedom to Demonstate Under Israeli Law
- Former High Court President/Justice Aharon Barak established
- "a demonstration of a political or social character
is a manifestation of the autonomy of individual will, freedom of choice,
and freedom of negation that are included in the framework of human dignity
as a constitutional right."
- Israel's Supreme Court stressed the importance of protecting
minority views saying:
- "The freedom of expression and demonstration is
intended to protect not only those who hold accepted and popular opinions,
but also - and herein lies the principal test of freedom of expression
- opinions that are liable to incur anger or outrage."
- Even so, restrictions may apply in exceptional cases,
as a last, not first resort. Before taken, however,:
- "it must be examined whether the assembly or demonstration
can be held while at the same time preventing the occurrence of the danger
and reducing its dimensions, by means of police details directed at those
persons who are creating the danger....It must be made a high priority
- alongside the protection of public well-being and security, in general
- since it is intended to ensure the freedom of expression that is so vital
to a democratic system."
- Justice Barak defined the need for balance saying:
- "As with other liberties, here, too, a balance must
be struck between the will of the individual - and of individuals - to
express their views by way of assembly and demonstration, the will of the
individual to protect his well-being and property, and the will of the
public to protect public order and security. Without order there is no
liberty. Freedom of assembly does not mean the abandonment of all public
order, and freedom of procession does not mean the freedom to riot."
- Under Israeli law, permits are required for more than
50 people to demonstrate and make speeches. Police may refuse them only
if proved with "near certainty" that security, order, and/or
free movement or rights of others will be compromised. They may also consider
their ability to handle demonstrations along with other responsibilities
- In the public interest, Supreme Court decisions sought
reasonableness and alternatives, not denial of the right to demonstrate.
For example, in 1996, justices suggested rescheduling one around a US president's
visit. In 2005, they rejected a 36-hour demonstration request to block
a main Jerusalem road because of the imposition on city residents, ruling
instead for a shorter, defined period.
- A recent Sheikh Jarrah ruling sided with police on the
location, yet allowed a limited procession to homes adjacent to ones participants
wished to target, deciding a compromise was justified.
- Freedom to Demonstrate Under International Law
- International law protects the right to demonstrate.
Under Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
- "The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized.
No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than
those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic
society in the interests of national security or public safety, public
order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the
rights and freedoms of others."
- Israel claims international law doesn't apply in Occupied
Palestine, a position with no support among non-Israeli jurists or other
states. It's universally binding in wartime, peace, or in occupied territory,
especially for a protracted period.
- Yet under Military Order 101, any assembly, vigil, or
procession with 10 or more people requires permission by permit if it's
- "a political matter or one liable to be interpreted
as political, or to discuss such a matter, (or) for a political goal or
for a matter liable to be interpreted as political."
- These provisions apply to public or private gatherings,
including in private homes, the military commander may prevent those attempting
"to influence public opinion in the Area in a manner liable to impair
public well-being or the public order."
- Prohibitions also apply to:
- -- intentions to harm public well-being or order;
- -- facilitating their execution;
- -- activities identifying with or supporting hostile
or unlawful organizations or associations, as defined under military law;
- -- publications, films, photographs, recordings, or other
materials "contain(ing anything with) political meaning," and
their distribution without approval; and
- -- national symbols without special permission from the
military commander or any soldier or police officer he authorizes "to
exercise his powers in accordance" with given orders. In addition,
"any soldier shall have the authority to use the required degree of
force" at his discretion.
- However, Military Order No. 101 violates Israeli and
international law, both recognizing the right to demonstrate, exceptions
applying when it conflicts with public safety or security. "Order
No. 101, by contrast, does not recognize the right to demonstrate; instead,
it focuses on establishing prohibitions and restrictions" of legal
gatherings and expressions.
- Yet, it's language is vague, imprecise, and open to interpretation
- -- it's also contrary to international and Israeli law;
- -- it doesn't specify who may decide the content or purpose
of the gathering or publication, just that they're "liable to be interpreted
- -- "the required degree of force" is undefined,
leaving considerable leeway for abuse; Israel takes full advantage;
- -- lawful expression and demonstrations are restricted;
- -- requiring permission for peaceful gatherings implies
an intrinsic and a priori danger, even in private homes or publications,
people subject to arrest and indictment for expressing their views nonviolently;
- -- displaying Palestinian symbols, even privately, may
be a crime;
- -- imposing 10 years in prison and/or large fines for
"offenses" not causing injury, loss of life, or property destruction
is disproportional and unjust; by comparison, the same "offense"
under Israeli law calls for one year in prison and no fine; and
- -- permitting authority to be delegated to junior officers
"shows gross disrespect" for the right to demonstrate and express
- Recently, a senior military official said "there
is no problem with people coming to the place with signs, with songs, but
they must not commit any act of violence." Yet when Palestinians and
their supporters do it they're assaulted, arrested, and risk charges and
disproportionate punishment, in violation of international and Israeli
law. However, settlers under civil law are exempt, favoring them under
a grossly unjust system, common in all police states, Israel qualifying
- Final Comments
- Extreme Israeli repression continues, including (in mid-July)
revoking the East Jerusalem residency of four Palestinians affiliated with
Hamas, Palestine's legitimate government, not the West Bank coup d'etat
- Affected are:
- -- Muhammad Abu Tir, Muhammad Tutah, and Ahmad 'Atun,
elected Change and Reform Party Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members,
affiliated with Hamas; and
- -- Khaled Abu 'Arfah, Hamas' minister for Jerusalem affairs.
- As East Jerusalem residents, they had permanent residency
status, revoked in June 2006 for not resigning their political positions,
then interior minister Roni Bar-On saying they breached their allegiance
- At the time, three of the four were in prison, illegally
arrested to disrupt, discredit, and weaken Hamas. After their release,
they were ordered out of East Jerusalem and Israeli territory within 30
days. On June 25, Abu Tir was arrested and indicted for remaining. If convicted,
he'll again be imprisoned. On July 1, the others sought refuge at Red Cross
headquarters in East Jerusalem.
- After their residency status was revoked in 2006, a petition
objecting was filed with the High Court. It's still pending, President/Justice
Dorit Beinsich denying an application for an interim order enjoining their
expulsion until the Court rules, the petition's hearing scheduled for September.
- Revoking legal residency and forcible transfers are illegal
under international and Israeli law, including in East Jerusalem, an international
city under a UN Trustee Council, lawlessly annexed to the Jerusalem Municipality
in 1967. Subsequently, Israeli law was imposed, yet Palestinians are entitled
to their rights under the laws of occupation, permitting the occupier,
at most, to demarcate a person's residence location for a specific period
of time, deportation strictly forbidden.
- However, since occupying East Jerusalem, Israel revoked
residency status from persons it claimed moved their center of life to
another country. The above case is the first time it was ordered for lack
of allegiance -because of affiliation with Hamas.
- Under 1945 British Mandate Defense (Emergency) Regulations,
residents and citizens were deported for security reasons, the harsh provision
repealed by the Menachem Begin government. Exiling Hamas officials will
reinstate what was rescinded over 30 years ago, banishing them for no allegiance
to an occupying power, in violation of international law, Fourth Geneva's
Article 68 saying:
- "Protected persons who commit an offence which is
solely intended to harm the Occupying Power, but which does not constitute
an attempt on the life or limb of members of the occupying forces or administration,
not a grave collective danger, nor seriously damage the property of the
occupying forces or administration" or their installations "shall
be liable to internment or simple imprisonment" only, proportionate
to the offense committed. No other personal liberty infringements may be
imposed, including forcible transfers from their legal residence, Israel
setting a dangerous precedent doing it.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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