Israeli-ordered Deportations Threaten Palestinians
This week in the West Bank, Palestinians brace for the consequences of one of the harshest Israeli military orders to date. In what Israeli news source Haaretz called “a step too far,” the military order set into action earlier in the week gives soldiers the authority to deport tens of thousands of Palestinians and prosecute them on infiltration charges. According to Haaretz, “The order’s vague language will allow army officers to exploit it arbitrarily to carry out mass expulsions.” Although the official court order is new, practices of deportation in the West Bank have been routine since the occupation itself in 1967. Last October, Gazan born Berlanty Azzam was handcuffed, blindfolded, and forcibly evicted from the West Bank to Gaza. Azzam, 21, was a business student at Bethlehem University just months away from graduation. West Bank Palestinians who were born in Gaza—or even whose parents were born in Gaza—are the most vulnerable to the new military order. The action deepens the divide in the occupied territories by further isolating Palestinians in Gaza from those in the West Bank and tearing apart families. “We are supposed to be one people from one state,” a friend in Gaza told me yesterday. “Imagine you could be deported at any time without warning from the East Coast because you were born on the West Coast,” he added. The order also applies to Palestinians with connections to the diaspora, especially in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. After Gaza, the next round of deportations is expected to be to those countries. The Jordanian government has expressed outrage over the order. In the West Bank, Palestinians wait nervously, never really knowing if tomorrow will be the day they have to leave.