Ma'an News Agency
April 14, 2010 - 12:00am

Two military orders that authorized Israeli army to deport Palestinian residents from the West Bank came into effect on Tuesday, revealed Israeli human rights organization HaMoked.

"Signed but not revealed by Israeli authorities, the orders are worded so broadly, such as theoretically allowing the military to empty the West Bank of almost all its Palestinian inhabitants," said HaMoked.

The military orders, with prevention of infiltration and security provisions, view anyone who is present in the West Bank without an Israeli permit as an "infiltrator," said the rights watchdog.

The vast majority of Palestinians now living in the West Bank have never been required before to hold such kind of permit. By the new rule, the so-called "infiltrators" will face deportation or up to seven years in prison.

According to a report of the local daily Ha'aretz, the first Palestinians likely to be targeted under the new rule will be those who are born in the Gaza Strip, including their West Bank- born children.

Tens of thousands of West Bank residents' spouses, who hold foreign passports, will also be subject to the new order, said HaMoked.

The orders are amendments to a 1969 military law dealing with infiltration from neighboring Arab countries into Israel. The amendments significantly expand the original order, which defined infiltrators as someone who illegally stayed in Israel after having passed through then enemy states such as Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

To prevent the orders from being enforced, 10 human rights organizations, including HaMoked, appealed on Sunday to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. In their co-signed letter, the human rights groups demanded Barak to delay the entry into effect of the amendments.

Until Tuesday night, they have not received any reply from the authorities, said Elad Cahana, spokesman for HaMoked, one of the signatory organizations.

They will continue to fight against the orders by any means, Cahana added.

In the wake of the revealment of the legislation, the Palestinians bombarded the Israeli government's move with severe criticism.

Ghassan Al-Khatib, spokesman for the Palestinian government in the West Bank, said the decision was "a very dangerous and dramatic development," adding the Palestinians "will counter that order by all means."

The Palestinian National Authority on Tuesday started intensive high-level contacts with neighboring Arab countries to stop the implementation of the orders.

The decision also brought about a chorus of criticism from the Islamic world. Pan-Islamic body the Organization of the Islamic Conference on Tuesday denounced the order as an "ethnic cleansing campaign.


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