Israel stripping Palestinians of Jerusalem residency ‘war crime’: HRW

JERUSALEM - Human Rights Watch said Tuesday Israel had stripped nearly 15,000 Palestinians from Jerusalem of their right to live in the city since 1967 and warned that it could be a “war crime.”

“Israel claims to treat Jerusalem as a unified city, but the reality is effectively one set of rules for Jews and another for Palestinians,” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director, said in a report.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War in a move never recognised by the international community. The more than 300,000 Palestinians there have permanent residency status but are not Israeli nationals. While east Jerusalem residents are allowed to apply for citizenship, most do not as they view it as recognition of Israeli sovereignty.

Since 1967, 14,595 Palestinians have had their residence status revoked, effectively barring them from remaining in the city of their birth, the HRW report said citing interior ministry figures.

The majority of these revocations were due to spending periods of time out of the city, with Israel arguing their “centre of life” was not in Jerusalem.

“Residency revocations often effectively force Palestinians from east Jerusalem, who are protected by virtue of Israel’s occupation under the Fourth Geneva Convention, to leave the territory they live in,” the Human Rights Watch report said. “Deportation or forced transfers of any part of the population of an occupied territory could amount to war crimes.”

The Israeli interior ministry spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment. The report comes two days after an Israeli court decided to strip an Israeli Arab, Alla Zayud, of his citizenship after he carried out an attack.

Zayud was convicted on four counts of attempted murder after driving a car into Israeli soldiers and stabbing civilians in October 2015. He was sentenced to 25 years in jail. Israeli Arabs are full citizens of Israel and the Adalah rights group said it was the first ruling of its kind.

Omar Shakir, HRW’s director for Israel and the Palestinian territories, told AFP the decision to revoke Zayud’s nationality “would render him stateless, in violation of Israel’s obligations under international human rights law.”

Israel to permit Jerusalem

Palestinians to visit Gaza

Israel will allow Palestinian business executives from Jerusalem to visit the Gaza Strip for the first time in years, a defence ministry body said Tuesday.

COGAT, the Israeli agency that oversees civilian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, said it would allow in small numbers of businesspeople from annexed east Jerusalem looking to invest in the coastal territory.

Israel controls most access into and out of the Gaza Strip and has imposed a blockade on the Palestinian enclave for a decade. But in an Arabic-language Facebook post late Monday, COGAT said it would allow in “businessmen and others who want to improve and strengthen the economy, infrastructure and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip”. It said up to 150 people would be permitted to enter at a time.

Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs Gaza, have fought three wars since 2008.

Israel argues its blockade is necessary to control Hamas, but the United Nations and others warn the blockade amounts to collective punishment of the strip’s two million residents. Egypt also has a border with Gaza which it has largely closed off in recent years.

Israeli manslaughter soldier

to go to jail today

An Israeli soldier who shot dead a prone Palestinian attacker will begin an 18-month prison sentence Wednesday, a military court ruled, after his request for a postponement was rejected.

Elor Azaria’s appeal for a postponement “was rejected and he must report to the prison to serve his sentence”, a military court ruling seen by AFP said.

Azaria had requested that the sentence be postponed until Chief of Staff General Gadi Eisenkot examined a request that his sentence be reduced or changed to community service. Azaria is expected to begin his sentence in the Tzrifin prison in central Israel early on Wednesday.

On July 30, a military court rejected Azaria’s appeal against his conviction for manslaughter and upheld the prison term.

The March 2016 shooting in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron was caught on video by a rights group and spread widely online.

It showed Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, lying wounded on the ground, shot along with another Palestinian after stabbing and wounding a soldier, according to the army.

Azaria then shot him in the head without any apparent provocation.

He said he feared Sharif was wearing an explosive belt and could blow himself up, a claim judges rejected.

A number of Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have spoken out in favour of Azaria being pardoned.

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