Israeli army directive lashed as “crime of apartheid”

Zachary Goelman writes for the Jerusalem Report, Dec. 22:

Army Directive lashed as “crime of apartheid”
Israeli human rights organization has charged that an army ban on Israel drivers carrying Palestinian passengers in the west bank falls into the category of the “crime of apartheid”, as defined by international law.

The order, issued by Maj.Gen. Yair Naveh, the head of the Central Command, becomes effective on January 19. Citing exceptional security considerations, the army claims that Naveh’s directive is meant to protect and ensure public order. The Israeli human rights organization is threatening noncompliance with the order.

An employee of the Yesha Council, the settlers’ representative body, who insisted on anonymity, said. “The order makes sense. It is meant to prevent Israelis from picking up Palestinian hitchhikers. It’s dangerous.” Very few Israelis, if any, would pick up Palestinian hitchhikers and thus the order won’t cause problems for anyone but the human rights groups, the source remarked.

Naveh’s order stipulates that Israeli citizens may not transport “non-Israelis” – meaning Palestinians – unless the passenger is a first-degree relative or has a permit for travel and employment in Israel or inside Jewish settlements.

“As soon as the order came out, we announced we simply won’t obey,” says Yossi Wolfson, an attorney at HaMoked, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, a Jerusalem-based NPO offering legal advice to Palestinians who complain their rights have been violated by Israeli policies. Its staff of 30 Israelis and Palestinians deals with every- thing from prohibitions on the movement of individual Palestinians, home demolitions and allegedly arbitrary arrests.

Wolfson argues that Naveh’s, order violates the 1973 international convention which defines the crime of apartheid as “similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa. Article 3 declares that “international criminal responsibility shall apply … to individual’s members of organization and institutions and representatives of the State,” which “directly abet, encourage or cooperate in the commission of the crime of apartheid.

Rights groups say that the order harms their efforts. “We need to transport Palestinians in our cars,” Wolfson insists, “when we visit them to take depositions.” Another organization Yesh Din sent letters to Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Gen. Naveh, asking what happens when a “volunteer, who as part of her job escorts Palestinians who were attacked by settlers to the nearest police station in order to tile a complaint. Can she now expect on her arrival at the police station to be arrested for driving a Palestinian in a car with Israeli license plates?”

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