Israel Uses British Mandate-Era Emergency Regulations against Palestinians in Jerusalem

Israel Uses British Mandate-Era Emergency Regulations against Palestinians in Jerusalem

Israeli forces tour the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah, November 16, 2019. Photo Credit: Emil Salman

Israel has notified six Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem of its intention to place them under nighttime curfew for several months, in an unusual move to use British Mandate-era emergency regulations against local Palestinian residents in an area annexed by Israel, an Israeli daily has reported.

According to Haaretz newspaper, the Home Front Command's action to serve them with administrative injunctions over "sensitive information" about their alleged activities comes amid an ongoing Israeli campaign in their neighborhood of Issawiya, which led to the arrest of over 600 residents but only a handful of indictments.

The injunctions employed in this case give extensive authority to military commanders, and are generally used for demolitions and detention without trial almost exclusively in the West Bank, rather than within Israeli territory.

However, neither Palestinian nor Israeli lawyers who work in Jerusalem can remember a Home Front commander ever issuing personal administrative detention orders, as Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai intends to do now.

The Israel military claimed that such a decision is made when army officials have information pointing to an alleged “public security risk” based on intelligence information “which can't be released.”

The injunctions will apply to the six men, who have been charged in the past with disrupting public order. According to the notifications they received of Yadai's intention to employ the 1945 emergency rules against them, they will be restricted to their homes during the night for several months.

In 1945, the British Mandate government enacted the Defense (Emergency) Regulations. They included, in part, provisions against illegal immigration, establishing military tribunals to try civilians without granting the right of appeal, allowing sweeping searches and seizures, prohibiting publication of books and newspapers, demolishing houses, detaining individuals administratively for an indefinite period, sealing off particular territories, and imposing curfew.

In 1948, Israel incorporated the Defense Regulations into its law, pursuant to section 11 of the Government and Law Arrangements Ordinance, except for "changes resulting from establishment of the State or its authorities", said Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – B’Tselem.

In 1951, following debate on administrative detention, the Knesset plenum decided that the Defense Regulations oppose the basic principles of democracy and directed the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee to draft a bill for their repeal. Nevertheless, the Regulations were not abolished, apparently because they served as the legal basis for the military rule then imposed on Israel's Arab citizens.

Over the years, Israel used these regulations extensively in the Occupied Territories to punish and deter. The Regulations served as the authority for Israel to demolish and seal hundreds of houses, deport residents, administratively detain thousands of persons, and impose closures and curfews on towns and villages.

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