The new extreme right-wing Israeli government has already started to act on its coalition's fundamental guiding principles by advancing racist policies and laws, particularly against Palestinians throughout Israel and the OPT. The violence rapidly escalated in recent weeks when Israeli forces raided the Jenin refugee camp, killing ten Palestinians. In the aftermath of subsequent shootings in East Jerusalem, the government took collective retaliatory measures against Palestinians, including arbitrary arrests, home demolitions, and attempts to revoke citizenship and residency.
Banning the Palestinian Flag
and Violently Arresting Protestors
Palestinian citizens of Israel wave the Palestinian flag during a protest in the city of Jaffa.
Photo by Mati Milstein.
Since the government was sworn in over a month ago, racialized policing against Palestinians has intensified. A law that was passed on 28 December 2022 granted the new National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the ultra-nationalist leader of the Jewish Power Party, full and direct control over the law enforcement authorities. Adalah is challenging the law, commonly referred to as ‘the Ben-Gvir Law’, which substantially expands the powers of the Minister- including in setting the police policy- and has already resulted in heightened police violence against Palestinians.
The new Minister has already begun to use his expanded powers by banning the raising of the Palestinian flag in public spaces. Adalah has written to the National Security Minister demanding that the directive be rescinded as it is illegal under Israeli law. On 26 January 2023, police officers violently arrested six protestors for raising the Palestinian flag during a protest in the city of Haifa against the military’s killings of Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp. Among the detainees was one of Adalah’s lawyers, who was present at the protest to provide legal counsel to protestors about their right to wave the Palestinian flag. The police’s draconian actions are yet another in a series of attempts to crack down on any expression of Palestinian national identity and to violently deter Palestinian citizens from protesting.
Home Demolitions in East Jerusalem
Israeli forces carry out a demolition operation in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, Jerusalem, 30 January 2023. Photo by Oren Ziv / Activestills
January saw a new wave of home demolitions in East Jerusalem, in what is a form of collective punishment by Israel against Palestinians. Since 28 January 2023, Israeli security forces have sealed off the family homes of Palestinians they have identified as assailants in East Jerusalem and marked them for demolition. Israeli forces have also begun demolishing homes in the city that were built without permits, in accordance with the policy of the ultra-nationalist Minister of National Security.
On 29 January 2023, Adalah sent a letter demanding that the government immediately cease the demolitions, as the order given by the National Security Minister was legally baseless. Adalah argued that the context and timing of the instruction to demolish houses make it clear that this is a vindictive action and seeks to abuse the civilian population, living under occupation, in the wake of the shootings in East Jerusalem. Adalah emphasized that unregulated construction in East Jerusalem is the direct result of Israel’s systematic discriminatory housing and planning policies, which have placed near-insurmountable obstacles before Palestinians who seek the building permits required by Israeli law.
Revocation of Citizenship or Permanent Residency of Palestinians
Passport of Israel and national ID document. Photo by Shutterstock
On 30 January 2023, the Knesset voted to approve the first reading of a bill to revoke the citizenship or permanent residency of Palestinians from Israel and East Jerusalem deemed to have committed a ‘terrorist act’ and to have received payment from the Palestinian Authority for committing the act, and deport them to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.
In July 2022, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld an existing law that authorizes, with court approval, the Interior Minister to revoke the citizenship of a person who has committed an act that constitutes a ‘breach of loyalty’, a charge used almost exclusively against Palestinians. The new bill gives even broader unfettered discretion to the Interior Minister to revoke Israeli citizenship or permanent residency and would allow Israel to expel Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of East Jerusalem from their homes and deport them to the territory of the Palestinian Authority, including Gaza.
Adalah sent a letter to Israel government officials, calling on them to act immediately to prevent the bill’s advancement. Adalah argued that the law exclusively targets Palestinians, severely violates their most fundamental rights, and seeks to promote Israel’s longstanding policy of creating two separate legal tracks based on racial identity.
Adalah will continue to challenge the racist policies and laws of the new government and mounting attacks against the rights of Palestinians throughout Israel and the OPT.