How Israel is silently transferring Palestinians from East Jerusalem

Israel/Palestine
on 16 Comments

Jabal Mukaber, occupied East Jerusalem — Just a few hundred metres away from Manwa al- Qanbar’s house lies the separation wall which divides occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied West Bank.

61-year-old al-Qanbar might soon be expelled to live on the other side of the wall, but she refuses to think about this possibility.

“Where else can I go? Can you leave your home after living here for 35 years? I won’t move,” al-Qanbar told Mondoweiss as she cuddled her newborn granddaughter in her arms.

In January her 28-year-old son Fadi was shot dead after ramming his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in the illegal Jewish settlement of East Talpiot, killing four.

Two days later, al-Qanbar received a notice from the Israeli Ministry of Interior informing her of their intent to revoke her permanent residency status. Ten other members of Fadi’s extended family also received notices that their permits will be revoked, including two minors aged eight and ten.

Al-Qanbar’s permanent residency was revoked in January 2017, marking the first time Israel punitively revoked the residency permit of a family member of an attacker.

The Appeals Tribunal issued temporary orders suspending the “deportation” and the family members are now fighting through the court to stay with their families in Jabal Mukaber.

“From now on anyone who plots, plans or considers carrying out an attack will know that his family will pay a heavy price for his deed,” Israeli Interior Minister Arye Deri said in a statement.

“The consequences will be harsh and far-reaching, like the decision I made regarding the mother and relatives of the terrorist [Fadi al-Qanbar] who perpetrated the attack in Armon Hanatziv [neighbourhood] in Jerusalem.”

By punitively revoking residencies, civil society organizations say Israel is illegally engaging in a “silent transfer and colonization” of Palestinians with the aim of maintaining a Jewish majority in Jerusalem.

Israel has sought to preserve its domination by maintaining a demographic balance of 60 percent Jews and 40 percent Palestinians in Jerusalem, according to its master plan.

“It’s part of the general policy of the Israeli occupation to reach a Jewish demography by illegal means,” said Nada Awad, advocacy officer of Al Quds University’s Community Action Center.

“Under the pretext of security, Israel is forcibly transferring Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem… These measures of collective punishment, if they are not stopped, will set very worrying precedents leading to forcibly transferring Palestinians for acts committed by a member of their extended family.”

One of the family members whose permit is at stake is Bassam Alam, Fadi’s half-sister’s son-in-law. Originally from the West Bank, he had obtained his permit to live in Jerusalem through the family unification process since his wife Susan is from East Jerusalem.

During the trial hearing on September 10, lawyer for the defendants, Murad al- Khatib questioned why extended family members who have never met Fadi are having their permits revoked.

“The Shabak said that they sought to revoke the residency of the husband of the half-sister of Fadi. But [Susan, Bassam’s wife] isn’t even the half-sister of Fadi; they’re further related than that,” al-Khatib said. “They never met; they’re not even from the same family.”

Al-Khatib further argued that while the Ministry of Interior has the authority to revoke any permit of residence if they pose a security threat or are involved in criminal activity, in the case of Susan and Bassam Alam, they haven’t been involved in either, al-Khatib explained.

Al-Qanbar had obtained her permanent residency status by marriage. She’s at a risk of being forcibly transferred on the grounds that her marriage of 35 years was allegedly bigamous, illegal under Israeli law. She says her husband was already divorced when she married him.

It has become increasingly difficult for Palestinians to establish a family and live in East Jerusalem. According to the “temporary order” implemented in 2003, Palestinians from the West Bank who marry an Israeli citizen (including those from East Jerusalem), cannot obtain Israeli citizenship or residency. They can only receive “temporary permits” under extremely rigid criteria that must be renewed every year. Family unification permits were completely canceled for Jerusalemite-Gazan couples in 2008.

Between 2000 and 2013, 43 percent of family unification applications were rejected, of which 20 per cent were for security reasons.

More than 14,500 Palestinians have had their residency status revoked since Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, illegal under international law. Since then, Palestinians have been treated as immigrants in their own country and given “permanent residency status.” In practice, the status isn’t permanent, but rather treated as a “revocable privilege” instead of an “inherent right” according to civil society organizations.

Since October 2015 Israel has escalated its use of collective punishment as a tool for forcibly transferring Palestinians from East Jerusalem.

The Israeli government usually punishes the attacker by issuing a demolition order for his home, but in the days following the attack by Fadi, Israeli authorities blocked all the main roads and distributed demolition notices to 81 houses in Jabal Mukaber, on the pretext of building without a permit.

“They punished everyone in the neighborhood. The day after the attack they cut off the water and electricity for all the homes here and blocked off all the entrances to the neighbourhood. They even destroyed the sheeps’ tents,” al-Qanbar said.

Fadi’s wife and four kids moved in to al-Qanbar’s home next door in the same detached house after the Israelis had sealed her home with cement, nearly reaching the ceiling. The hot, compressed cement soon set the house on fire, costing 100,000 shekels in damages for renovation, al-Qanbar explained.

Al-Qanbar’s health and state benefits have also been revoked, but she remains hopeful that she’ll be able to keep her residency.

“Lawyers that I talked to said that legally they don’t have the right to take it away from me… I’ve lived here since I got married and I always paid for the tax for the space that I live in; I paid my electricity and water bills. So why do they have to take [my residency] away from me? They’re taking it away because of my son,” al-Qanbar said.

About Mersiha Gadzo

Mersiha Gadzo is a multimedia journalist. Her articles have appeared in Al Jazeera, CBC, Canadian Dimension and the Middle East Eye. She tweets at @MersihaGadzo.

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16 Responses

  1. rhkroell
    September 25, 2017, 1:11 pm

    “By punitively revoking residencies, civil society organizations say Israel is illegally engaging in a “silent transfer and colonization” of Palestinians with the aim of maintaining a Jewish majority in Jerusalem.”

    “Israel has sought to preserve its domination by maintaining a demographic balance of 60 percent Jews and 40 percent Palestinians in Jerusalem, according to its master plan.”

    There is a more pointed way of describing this continuous process of Israeli colonization which gets at the crux of the problem in starker terms. Many outside observers cannot help but identify what they are witnessing in Palestine as greed, avarice or covetousness. Lying behind Israel’s ever-expanding colonization of Palestinian property in the West Bank and East Jerusalem lurks the Israeli peoples’ insatiable hunger for more land, more territory, a ravenous desire for more and more, something bigger and better, something more lavish and luxurious, a voracious hunger which can never be satisfied.

    This satisfies an antisemitic stereotype which is difficult to ignore. Shlomo Sand describes Simon Maccabees’ hunger for land in a similar manner: “Simon the priest’s territorial hunger grew increasingly insatiable with every new victory on the battlefield. . . . the kingdom of Judea would try to expand its borders as much as possible and would be successful in its efforts. At the end of the Hasmonean kings’ continuing campaign of conquest — which is to say, at the height of their rule — the Land would contain Samaria, the Galilee, and the region of Edom. Thus would the kingdom of Judea come relatively close to the dimensions of the pharaonic land of Canaan” (THE INVENTION OF THE LAND OF ISRAEL: FROM HOLY LAND TO HOMELAND. Trans. Forman, Geremy. New York, Verso, 2012, p. 93).

    • Jack Green
      September 26, 2017, 9:50 pm

      rhkroell

      Trying to achieve percentages reminds me of Affirmative Action.

      • Mooser
        September 27, 2017, 11:47 am

        “Trying to achieve percentages reminds me of Affirmative Action.”

        My oh my, you are dumb.

  2. Jerry Hirsch
    September 25, 2017, 3:22 pm

    Rhkroel, if you want to talk about the insatiable desire for land look at the Arab expansion beginning in the seventh century. It began in Mecca and spread for thousands of miles engulfing the entire Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, western Asia, and Spain. The Jewish kingdom was tiny in comparison.

    • Mooser
      September 25, 2017, 5:02 pm

      “Rhkroel, if you want to talk about the insatiable desire for land look at the Arab expansion beginning in the seventh century”

      Okay, sure thing! You bring the seventh Century around again, and we will have a look at it.

      BTW, why did the Arabs do all that expanding, and not us?

    • Mooser
      September 25, 2017, 5:10 pm

      “It began in Mecca and spread for thousands of miles engulfing the entire Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, western Asia, and Spain. The Jewish kingdom was tiny in comparison.”

      Why? Aren’t we “the chosen people”. If we were chosen by God, why aren’t there more of us Jews than Arabs?
      I mean, “Jerry”, don’t get me wrong, I am as Jewish-chauvanist as the next guy, but failing at one of the basic Darwinian species-survival mechanisms doesn’t give me a lot of confidence.

    • rhkroell
      September 26, 2017, 1:08 am

      Jerry:

      FYI the 7th-century Jewish people living in Judea and the surrounding regions were not dispossessed of their so-called “holy land,” Eretz Israel, their “Promised Land,” the state of Judea, the “Jewish kingdom,” or any other large piece of real estate by the “Arab expansion” (or Arab conquests). They had already lost any rights they might have possessed during their brief rule as an independent kingdom (the Hasmonean Kingdom: 110-63 BCE).

      Don’t blame the Muslim hordes for dispossessing the Jews of a piece of real estate they had lost to the Romans in 63 BCE. The Roman Empire — believe it or not — ruled Palestine “with three very brief interruptions (one caused by native revolt, the other two by foreign invasions) from 63 BCE until the Arab conquest of Palestine in 638 CE” (THE ANCIENT JEWS FROM ALEXANDER TO MUHAMMAD, Schwartz, Seth, Cambridge UP, 2014, p. 55). Sorry to have to inform you of this, Jerry.

  3. Ossinev
    September 25, 2017, 3:31 pm

    “From now on anyone who plots, plans or considers carrying out an attack will know that his family will pay a heavy price for his deed,” Israeli Interior Minister Arye Deri said in a statement.

    “The consequences will be harsh and far-reaching, like the decision I made regarding the mother and relatives of the terrorist [Fadi al-Qanbar] who perpetrated the attack in Armon Hanatziv [neighbourhood] in Jerusalem.”

    Sounds familiar eg:
    https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9780230508262_8

    Of course to the Ziocolonisers any comparisons with Fascists/Nazis are very very hurtful, untrue and basically yes you have guessed it Anti – Semitic.

    This they will say is in no way “Collective Punishment” but ” Selective Punishment” which is right up there with all the other miraculous Zionist innovations such as “cherry tomatoes” , the Intel Chip and Falafel.

    Remember always that Zioland is a cultured Western democracy which would never ever practice such barbaric Nazi like practices.

    Just a thought: I wonder if “Minister” Arye Deri includes babies in the womb as eligible family once they are born. I expect he does.

  4. Brewer
    September 25, 2017, 5:45 pm

    “Collective punishment is a form of retaliation whereby a suspected perpetrator’s family members, friends, acquaintances, sect, neighbors or entire ethnic group is targeted. The punished group may often have no direct association with the other individuals or groups, or direct control over their actions. In times of war and armed conflict, collective punishment has resulted in atrocities, and is a violation of the laws of war and the Geneva Conventions”
    – Wikipedia

  5. JosephA
    September 25, 2017, 7:08 pm

    The Israelis have been committing war crimes since the state was “founded”. They will still lose the war because humanity doesn’t like living in fear and state-sponsored-terror.

  6. Elizabeth Block
    September 26, 2017, 11:52 am

    Two things come to mind:

    Someone who was working in Palestine in 1985 told us that she was visited by an Israeli government official, who said their plan for Jerusalem was to make it a Jewish city, with a few Arab “pockets,” “for colour.” He also said he was going to visit the U.S. to be taken on a tour of Indian reservations, to see how they do it.

    The other is Aesop’s fable of the wolf and the lamb.
    “I’m going to eat you!” says the wolf.
    “But why? I never did anything to you.”
    “You muddied the water in the stream where I drink.”
    “But sir, I was downstream from you.”
    “Well, last year you insulted me.”
    “But sir, last year I wasn’t even born!”
    “No matter. I’m going to eat you because I’M HUNGRY!”

    • Jack Green
      September 26, 2017, 9:52 pm

      Elizabeth Block

      It’s the Palestinians who demand “from the River to the Sea.”

      • echinococcus
        September 27, 2017, 12:54 am

        Another “Green”:

        It’s the Palestinians who demand “from the River to the Sea.”

        Well, duh! They (*&%^$ own it!

      • John O
        September 27, 2017, 7:39 am

        Well, Jack, it IS their land.

  7. Jack Green
    September 27, 2017, 3:47 pm

    echinococcus
    John O

    How do you know that it’s Palestinian land?

    • echinococcus
      September 27, 2017, 6:41 pm

      How do you know that it’s Palestinian land?

      Because it’s far easier to know that than that the earth is not flat.
      Judging by you guys, Zionism for a couple generation seems to have totally murdered the human brain.

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