Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Israel's Draconian Anti-Infiltration Law

Israel's Draconian Anti-Infiltration Law

by Stephen Lendman

December 10 is Human Rights Day. Commemorating "the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, that human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values."

Not in America. Or Israel. Fascist police states. Racist ones. Mocking fundamental civil and human rights. 

Knesset members passed legislation targeting African migrants. Legitimate refugees and asylum seekers. So-called Holot law.

An amendment to the 1954 Prevention of Infiltration Law. Following two earlier versions. In 2010 and 2012. 

Both struck down. Israel's High Court ruling them illegal. Calling the second version "the same lady in different clothing." Excluding non-Jews from entering Israel for any reason.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) called the 2010 measure "one of the most dangerous bills ever presented in the Knesset." 

Its revised 2012 version was little different. Brazenly undemocratic. Shameful.

ACRI called it "draconian and immoral, and its entire purpose is to deter refugees from entering Israel." 

"The law blatantly disregards Israel's most basic commitments as a member of the community of nations and as a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees."

"The State of Israel has the right to protect its borders, but not by trampling on human rights and ignoring democratic values."

New legislation passed 47 - 23. Shorting detention at Saharonim Prison to three months. From one year in version two. 

For new asylum seekers. Then transferring them to Holot for 20 months. Like current facility asylum seekers. Version two permitted indefinite detention.

Canceling morning and noon head counts. So asylum seekers can remain outside the facility during daytime. Maintaining evening ones. Keeping them detained overnight. Barring them from working.

Anyone violating detention rules can be sent to Saharonim for up to four months.

Minor changes ignore fundamental human rights abuses. Detention without due process is lawless. In ruling against version two, High Court Justice Uzi Vogelman said:

The issue "isn't solely quantitative - what is the maximum constitutional length of time for detention in custody - but whether it's permissible to detain someone in custody for whom there is no effective deportation procedure." 

"To this question I respond - as this court did before me in a wide-ranging ruling - absolutely not."

New legislation lets Israel detain foreign nationals it has no intention to deport. Based solely on race, religion, nationality or ethnicity.

Their crime is fleeing from persecution. Seeking safe haven refuge. A fundamental right. Affirmed under international law.

Israel treats non-Jewish refugee/asylum seekers like criminals. Other discriminatory laws target them. Ignoring Article I of the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, saying:

"A person who owning to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of their nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country."

Post-WW II, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established to help them.

To gain legal protection, they must be outside their country of origin. Fear persecution. Be harmed or fear harm by their government or others.

Fear persecution for at least one of the above reasons. Pose no danger to others.

Israel signed the 1951 Convention. Interior Ministry procedures decide individual cases. So do secret inter-ministerial determinations.

Compared to Western states, Israel accepts the fewest number of temporary or permanent refugees. Ignoring its legal and moral responsibility.

Detaining refugees and asylum seekers lawlessly. It remains to be seen if Israel's High Court rules responsibly like before. Odds favor it. Perhaps unanimously like last time.

Israeli legislation targets Eritrean and Sudanese nationals. 'Fearing persecution. Unable to return home. 

Israel offers no choice. Detention. Most often followed by deportation. Violating their fundamental rights. Endangering their welfare. Perhaps their lives if sent home.

Human rights groups vow to contest Holot legislation. Petitioning Israel's High Court for justice like before.

Knesset Interior and Environment Committee chairwoman MK Miri Regev introduced the amendment. Preferring tougher legislation, she said. 

Forced to compromise for passage. Regev saying:

"The fact that the attorney general always keeps one eye on Geneva and is disconnected from what is happening here to the Israeli public won't prevent me from bringing a better law in the future."

Referring to Yehuda Weinstein. Saying he won't be able to defend the law if detention is mandated longer.

MK Nitzan Horowitz responded to Regev, saying:

"It's too bad (she) and the interior minister didn't read the High Court’s first verdict overturning the law." 

"They would have understood that in a democratic state, it is impossible to imprison people without a trial." 

"It doesn't matter whether they're blacks from Africa, blonds from Sweden or people from Tel Aviv or Yeruham."

MK Dov Henin denounced the amendment, saying Israel "again chose militancy and hatred."

Immigrant rights activists gathered outside the Knesset. Urging MKs defeat the amendment. 

Protest organizer Hagit Shemer saying "imprisoning 3,000 people will only cost us millions and won't help anyone, and certainly not the residents of south Tel Aviv." 

"The solution is to give asylum-seekers work permits for places across Israel and to invest funds in south Tel Aviv."

Over 2,200 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers are held at Holot. Had Knesset members not passed legislation Monday, they'd have been released in two weeks.

Human rights groups denounced it. Saying it amounted to "wasting the taxpayers' money on unacceptable solutions."

Hoping 20th Knesset members will reverse things. Odds favor worse ahead. Not better. Fascists run Israel.

MK Yakov Litzman called the 19th Knesset "the worst in the history of the state."

After Knesset members passed Holot legislation, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Physicians for Human Rights, Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, along with other human rights groups issued the following joint statement, saying:

"Today, the Knesset approved continuing to hold the High Court in contempt, misleading the residents of southern Tel Aviv and wasting taxpayers’ money on unacceptable solutions." 

"Incarceration for almost two years in the Holot facility and placing restrictions on employers of asylum-seekers will ensure that the rights of asylum-seekers will continue to be violated, and that the hardships of south Tel Aviv’s residents will only be exacerbated."

They intend petitioning Israel's High Court to rule responsibly like before.

A Final Comment

On December 9, Amnesty International (AI) accused Israel of committing war crimes last summer. 

According to AI's Middle East and North Africa Programme director Philip Luther citing attacks on multi-story apartment buildings:

"All the evidence we have shows this large-scale destruction was carried out deliberately and with no military justification."

“Both the facts on the ground and statements made by Israeli military spokespeople at the time indicate that the attacks were a collective punishment against the people of Gaza and were designed to destroy their already precarious livelihoods."

"Even if the Israeli authorities had good reason to believe that a part of a building was being used for military purposes, they had an obligation to choose means and methods of attack that would minimize harm to civilians and their property."

"The Israeli army have previously conducted air strikes on specific apartments in high-rise buildings without their complete destruction."

"War crimes must be independently and impartially investigated and those responsible should be brought to justice in fair trials." 

"Those whose homes and livelihoods have been unlawfully destroyed deserve justice and full reparation."

Separately, a previous article discussed Rasmea Odeh's politicized persecution. A Palestinian/American human rights champion.

Brutalized by Israel 45 years earlier. Wrongfully charged in America with unlawful procurement of naturalization. For allegedly lying on her 1994 immigration application.

Not mentioning her lawless Israeli arrest. Torture extracted confession. Despite having committed no crime. 

Convicted unjustly. Detained awaiting sentencing next March. Denied bail. Held in solitary confinement. Cruel and unreasonable punishment by any standard.

On December 8, federal Judge Gershwin Drain ordered her release. Set her bond at $50,000 in cash. 

Funds yet to be raised. Ordering her to report to a Chicago probation officer where she lives within 24 hours of release.

Every two weeks thereafter. Saying her "dedication to her community work and the people that such work assists, as well as the presence of relatives in Chicago, demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that she is not as significant a flight risk as originally believed."

Rasmea's defense committee welcomed the good news. Thanked supporters. Called for donations. Funds for her bond and legal costs.

Thousands of political prisoners languish in America's gulag. Releasing Rasmea until next March provides only temporary relief. Justice remains denied.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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