MachsomWatch Alerts - August September 2009 | Machsomwatch
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MachsomWatch Alerts - August September 2009

Saturday, 24 October, 2009



"The Civil Administration will manage the civil affairs of the area... to the best interests and welfare of the population, providing public services and operating them, considering the need to maintain proper administration and public order"(from edict no. 947 of the Military Government)



This definition of the Civil Administration's duties (actually replacing military rule) obliges it to provide the Palestinians with a reasonable fabric of life.


In fact, their whole life routine depends upon receiving various permits issued by the regional offices of the Civil Administration (DCOs). MachsomWatch volunteers monitoring these offices have witnessed the outright tendency to turn this service into an ongoing nightmare. What appears to be inefficiency is, in actual fact, an effective apparatus of curbing the Palestinians' freedom of movement - a successful mode of control and oppression. Obtaining permits is considered a sort of ‘privilege' depending on the applicant's ability to prove ‘he/she has a justified reason' to wish to enter Israel and Jerusalem. Consequently, the procedure of issuing permits is not transparent nor clear, and is perceived by the Civil Administration as exceptional - for the rule is to keep Palestinians out, on the whole.


The magnetic card that is issued Palestinians in addition to the IDs they hold is a biometrical document that identifies their fingerprints and photographs their eye fundus. No entry permits for trade and commerce, prayer, family visits or even medical treatment are obtainable without it. At present the magnetic card is issued at large, and the government intends to issue such cards soon to all Israeli residents as well. The topic is up for discussion at the Knesset these days, and has aroused considerable public objection for its invasion of privacy. But privacy of the Palestinian individual is, naturally, not as hallowed as the Israeli/Jewish one. What can be more ‘legitimate' than blatant invasion of Palestinian privacy - after all this is about ‘state security'!



After days of standing in line, M., from the South Hebron Hills, managed to enter the Hebron DCO and received his long-awaited magnetic card. Innocently he assumed he would now be able to receive an entry permit into Israel for work purposes. Learning that for this he still had to seek an Israeli employer who would be willing to appeal to the employment officer at the Civil Administration on his behalf and fill all the bureaucratic chores required, only to hear that M. is in fact ‘security(GSS)-prevented' - M. was helpless. How will he find an Israeli employer when he cannot even enter Israel to look for one? In the meantime M. wondered why and wherefore he is prevented. This naïve person thought that turning to the GSS and asking, clarifying the reasons for being blacklisted would help. And how would he reach the GSS? Where will he find that ‘Captain Johnnie' who would see him and explain? Despair.


The man found us and asked for help. And we wondered what do all the thousands of Palestinians do who do not know of human rights organizations that exist and are there to offer assistance? (Telephone query. The man's name is kept in the Machsomwatch archive)


For years, W. worked for an airline in East Jerusalem. Upon firing her, the employers refused to pay her severance and other fees she deserved as a regular employee. W. turned to the Tel Aviv Labor Court and placed charges against her employers. When applying for an entry permit to Israel to appear at court, she was refused. Why? -Because W. is security(GSS)-prevented.  Why...?


W. turned to us for help and eventually managed to reach her court session. Sounds reasonable? Not to us. Why should a human rights organization have to intervene in order for W. to access the court and exercise her right to receive the remuneration she deserves by law? (Name reserved in Machsomwatch archive)


L. is mother to a girl suffering from an incurable, degenerative disease. L. is married to a resident of East Jerusalem, but they have no ‘family unification' arrangement. Their ailing daughter is hospitalized at a Jerusalem institution.


Her care-giving requires 24 hour attendance. You guessed it. L. is GSS-prevented.  She even knows why - her brother is imprisoned in Israel. When the daughter was newly hospitalized, her father visited her regularly, but he works (a guard employed by a employment contractor) and cannot miss his shifts so often. L. who had been a teacher resigned so as to be near her child. But the powers that be looked to that... They discovered the Gordian knot between the imprisoned uncle and the dying niece.

Upon our query, asking for special consideration, the Civil Administration officials suggested that a family member who is not prevented - perhaps the girl's grandmother? - might do. We insisted, and L. got her permits. Would we ever consider NOT staying at our ailing child's beside? (Name reserved in Machsomwatch archive)


Often when one spouse is blacklisted, the authorities suggest another relative will be found to accompany him/her to medical treatments. A woman has to go for cancer hospital treatments without her husband... A child without one of its parents... Fertility treatments are to be undergone without one's spouse... If the mother, usually not prevented, also has a newborn babyinfo-icon still nursing, and another six toddlers at home, and cannot accompany her ailing child, who will? What would happen if we were to be treated thus? The earth would shake at our protests - but these are Palestinians, under occupation, ‘state security risks'...?



H. works in close proximity to his home. For years H. has crossed the street, just a few steps away, and reported to his workplace. One morning he learned this was over. Now, holding his magnetic card, he must cross at a ‘control point' so that ‘we can check whether he really went home, and prevent a dangerous infiltrator from reaching far and wide in Israel'. The detour expected of him stretches to 40 km from his home and workplace. Naturally on the new way now imposed on him, he must bypass many Israeli settlements (which he does not seem to jeopardize), whereas before he would cross a road and directly be at his workplace. Only GSS and the Civil Administration - and maybe God - know why. (Name and details reserved in Machsomwatch archive)



Those Palestinians applying for various permits at the Civil Administration offices who are refused, usually hear a laconic reply - "entry denied". At times they even receive this reply in writing.  And what is written there - "criteria-denied", "GSS-denied", "Operations-denied". Got it? Know what to do about it? The Palestinians know even less what this is about - we call it cruelty per se.



We have often sounded the alert about communication difficulties between the soldiers and Palestinians. The former speak Hebrew and the latter Arabic and in between the loudspeaker screeches and bleeps and even very intelligent keen hearers would not be able to decipher the sounds. The Civil Administration soldiers learn Arabic in a course that lasts... how long? Two weeks. "Irja, irja" - get back! - one can pick up in two weeks. But "Please, thank you" and some other necessary explanations might take two months, even a few more?