ACRI: rescind “Shin Bet-Prohibited” Classification

ACRI, HaMoked –Center for the Defence of the Individual, and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, petitioned the Supreme Court to demand that the Shin Bet`s classification of Palestinians as “Shin Bet-prohibited” be rescinded.

In October 2006, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, HaMoked -Center for the Defence of the Individual, and the organization Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, petitioned the Supreme Court against the IDF Commander of the West Bank, the head of the Civil Administration, the head of the Shin Bet, and the Chief Legal Counsel for Judea and Samaria. The petition calls for the cancellation of the practice of classifying or registering large numbers of residents of the Occupied Territories as “Shin Bet-prohibited” or as “security risks;” the process of classifying Palestinian residents in this way was carried out using an administrative procedure that is characterized by severe flaws, and these classifications, as well as the decisions based on them, are fundamentally defective. The petition was submitted by ACRI Attorney, Limor Yehuda, who also asked the Court to outlaw the human rights violations endured by individuals who are included in this classification, to demand that the security authorities utilize a proper procedure for classifying people as “Shin Bet-prohibited” and thereby imposing restrictions on their freedom of movement, and to make it obligatory to publish the clear procedures that comply with the provisions of constitutional and administrative law. The petition further asks that the Supreme Court Justices order the security authorities to reveal the number of residents of the Occupied Territories who are classified as “Shin Bet-prohibited”.

Attorney Yehuda explains in the petition that large numbers of residents of the Occupied Territories are classified as “Shin Bet-prohibited”. According to a figure that was provided two years ago, this definition applies to 180,000 West Bank residents. Residents of the territories who appear on this black list as “prohibited” are liable to suffer from multiple and varied limitations on their freedom of movement both within the Occupied Territories and when they attempt to leave the territories, including the outright denial of access to agricultural lands that have remained on the other side of the Separation Barrier, or when trying to enter Israel or travel abroad. All these restrictions have been imposed without any prior warning, with no explanation, on the basis of covert criteria, and as a result of illegitimate considerations, the denial of the right to a hearing, and in the absence of a reasoned explanation that they are entitled to by law. Thus, for example, an individual who is labeled “Shin Bet-prohibited” is liable to be turned back from his/her trip abroad, with no warning and with no consideration for the reasons of his/her trip, even if he/she is accompanying a relative in need of medical treatment, seeking critical medical treatment for themselves, to get engaged or married, complete their studies, or for any other important reason. Similarly, requests for entry permits to Israel for vital medical treatment were denied. In some cases the permit was eventually issued, but only after the direct intervention of human rights organizations or private lawyers, and only after important medical treatment was delayed, in some instances, for several long months.

The vast scope of the “Shin Bet-prohibited” list, and the absence of any prior warning of an individual’‘s inclusion in it, the petition adds, converts any Palestinian resident’‘s trip abroad into a gamble. On multiple occasions, individuals have packed their bags, parted from their friends and family, only to reach the Allenby Bridge and be turned back in the direction they came from by Israeli state officials at the passage point, with the claim that they are “Shin Bet- prohibited”. Typically nobody bothers to explain to these people why they are being denied passage. Apart from the not-insignificant costs of traveling to and from the Allenby Bridge, the denied travel plans often result in other expenses such as: the loss of air tickets that have been ordered in advance from Amman to the final destination, or university fees. This financial burden is added to the distress, anxiety or the loss of an opportunity that will not repeat itself, faced by such individuals. The practical implications of the aforementioned are the arbitrary and expansive violations of basic protected rights with no valid administrative process, and apparently, with no justification. Attorney Yehuda states in the petition that the large number of residents defined as “Shin Bet- prohibited,” reflects above all a bureaucratic system that is out of control; as a result, the exception – the denial of human rights – has become the norm.

Attorney Yehuda included in the petition, as a further illustration of the arbitrary nature of the decision to allocate this classification, data which was collected by the petitioning organizations. The data shows that more than 70% of individuals, who have petitioned the Supreme Court against their inclusion in this classification, resulted in its revocation and the eventual lifting of the limitations on their freedom of movement as “prohibited” individuals. Similar large percentages (approximately 70%) of cancellations of the classification were upheld even after when the Chief Legal Counsel for Judea and Samaria had refused the request. The classification is lifted in many instances even before the court has deliberated on the petition, something that indicates the total failure and arbitrariness of the decision-making procedure for the imposition of Shin Bet prohibitions. The security apparatus, the petition states, has, for a long period, been well aware of this systemic failure. They are also aware of its grave implications that translate into extreme and unjustifiable violations of protected rights for large numbers of residents. Despite this, Attorney Yehuda adds, security officials have not seen fit to act to amend these basic flaws. In addition to the faulty processes detailed above, which are inherent to the procedure utilized by the Shin Bet to issue the “prohibitive” classification, Attorney Yehuda adds, state authorities also fail to allocate a specific time period for the duration of this classification, or at the very least to ensure that it is periodically re- examined. Further, the imposition of this classification, in a large number of cases is used, illegitimately, as a means of pressuring individuals into cooperating with security authorities, or as a means of punishment for refusing to cooperate. In fact, many people who have met with Shin Bet representatives have stated that their interrogators conditioned their traveling abroad, or the issuance of a requested travel permit, on their agreement to serve as a collaborator or to provide information to the Shin Bet. In some cases this condition was voiced explicitly, and in others was implied by statements such as, “if you help us we will help you to meet your wife and children in Jordan”.

The information detailed in the petition proves that in the vast majority of cases the arbitrary and unnecessary rights violations of residents of the Occupied Territories could have been prevented if state authorities had fulfilled their basic administrative obligations and checked before they limited an individual’‘s freedom of movement. It is within the power of the security authorities to revert this travesty without any damage to the public good or the security of the state. However, currently the opposite is the case and a situation in which the majority of people registered for no valid reason as “prohibited”, and who suffer from an arbitrary violation of their rights, is one that in and of itself represents and creates a potential security threat.

The petition was submitted on 5/10/2006. The Supreme Court ordered the State to respond to the petition within 60 days.

last updated : 06/02/07

  • Print
  • email
  • RSS
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Categories: Freedom of Movement, The Occupied Territories


Comments are closed.