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From the field

26 Dec. 2010: Israel bans Palestinian political activist ‘Adnan Gheith from East Jerusalem

‘Adnan Gheith, a resident of the Silwan village in East Jerusalem, is a political activist against Israeli settlement in the village. This morning, the Israel Police gave his attorney an assigned residence order banning Gheith from Jerusalem for four months, as of 5 P.M.
In late November 2010, the Home Front commander, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, announced his intention to issue the order. The pretext given was that Gheith is responsible for organizing disturbances in Silwan. This is the first time that the army has issued an assigned residence order against a resident of East Jerusalem.

‘Adnan Gheith at a demonsration in Sheikh Jarrah. Photo: Eyal Hareuveni, 17.12.10.

Gheith is the secretary of the Fatah movement in Silwan and one of the heads of the popular committee of al-Bustan, a neighborhood of Silwan. The order is based on the Emergency Defense Regulations of 1945. Gheith filed an objection to the order with the Home Front Commander and requested an opportunity to state his case against the order. To date, the commander has not summoned him for a hearing.

Gheith, 35, a father of four young children (ranging in age from 12 years to 11 months) and a grocery-store owner, lives in al-Bustan neighborhood. For two years, Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, has promoted a plan to establish a biblical-touristic park next to the Ir David settlement compound operated by the Elad nonprofit organization in the village. The plan requires the demolition of dozens of houses in al-Bustan. Gheith was among the group who set up a protest tent of residents of al-Bustan, which the municipality demolished on the grounds that it was built without a permit.

Gheith states that, in recent months, the Jerusalem police have interrogated him five times and the Israel Security Agency has also interrogated him. After each interrogation, he was placed under house arrest for five days. No legal proceedings have been initiated against him. In 2008, he was administratively detained for six months.

Every person has the right not to be distanced from his home and area of residence. The ban order contravenes the Fourth Geneva Convention, which explicitly prohibits banning a person from his place of residence, except for “imperative reasons of security.” No such reasons exist in Gheith’s case, despite his repeated interrogations. The assigned-residence order also infringes Gheith’s right to due process, as it is an administrative procedure based on privileged information, which neither Gheith nor his attorneys were permitted to examine and attempt to refute. The order also infringes Gheith’s rights to gain a livelihood, to freedom of movement, and to family life.

The use of Mandatory emergency legislation makes it unnecessary for the defense authorities to prove the danger that Gheith poses – proof they were unable to substantiate during the course of his detentions and interrogations. The use of the assigned-residence order raises the suspicion that the defense authorities are punishing Gheith for his political activity and attempting to silence the legitimate protest of Silwan’s residents against Israeli settlement in the village, the dispossession of its residents of their property, and the continuing violations of the residents’ rights by the Israeli authorities. The use of this draconian legislation in this case raises suspicion that the authorities will use such means against any Palestinian political activity in the city of Jerusalem that does not comport with the interests of the Israeli government.

In addition, the use of a military order within the boundaries of East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed and applied its laws there, illustrates the institutional discrimination against East Jerusalemites and shows that Israel will not hesitate to use draconian military legislation to repress protest against the occupation.