News24

250 000 Palestinians stripped of residency

2012-06-12 14:01

Jerusalem - Israel revoked the residency of nearly 250 000 Palestinians between 1967 and 1994, according to Israeli military figures obtained by a human rights group and shown to AFP on Tuesday.

A letter sent to Israeli NGO Hamoked shows Israel stripped the residency of more than 100 000 people living in Gaza and about 140 000 people living in the West Bank after it occupied the Palestinian territories in 1967.

Palestinians lost their residency for various reasons, including tens of thousands for failing to respond to a census.

Others saw their residency revoked after travelling overseas for a number of years and failing to periodically renew their permits.

But rights groups say the renewal process was never explained to many Palestinians who travelled abroad to study or work only to discover they had missed the renewal deadline and therefore lost their residency.

And the total number affected by the revocations is believed to be higher than the official figure because entire families were sometimes forced to leave their homes after one member had their residency revoked.

Ido Blum, head of HaMoked's legal team, said the policy, which was in force for 27 years until the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1994, was a violation of international law.

Left stateless

"It is a clear violation of law for the occupying force to reduce the local population by revoking their residency rights, especially through an administrative procedure," he said.

The policy did not take into account whether the individual affected had residency or nationality elsewhere, and likely left some Palestinians stateless, he said.

In 1994, when the Palestinian Authority took administrative control of parts of the West Bank and Gaza under the Oslo agreement, some Palestinians were allowed to return.

Israeli figures show about 12 000 Palestinians were able to get their residency reinstated, but others have long since died without having their residency restored.

While the policy of revoking residency no longer applies to the West Bank and Gaza, it is still implemented in east Jerusalem.

Palestinians unable to provide documents including utility bills or school enrolment forms indicating Jerusalem is their "centre of life" risk losing their permit to stay in the Holy City.