Adalah Challenges an Army Order Forbidding a Palestinian Citizen of Israel from Entering the West Bank


On 19 January 2000, Ma'houd Mahameed, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Triangle town of Umm El Fahem, received an order from the Army Commander of the West Bank, Moshe Ya'alon, informing him that for "security reasons" he was forbidden to enter the West Bank for a period of 6 months. The order did not include any specific evidence against Mr. Mahameed, and did not offer its recipient any chance for appeal. The order was especially damaging to Mr. Mahameed, who was set to begin studying on 1 February towards a second degree in Arabic at Birzeit University, a program which does not exist at universities within Israel. 

That Mr. Mahameed should be the target of such an order was also particularly puzzling. Mr. Mahameed, who studied at Al Najah University in Nablus for his first degree, has never been arrested or detained by the police, and has absolutely no history of criminal activity. Although he was questioned on one occasion while studying in Nablus, this event had occurred nearly two years prior to this order, and was in connection to the interrogation of a fellow student who was subsequently released without being charged. 

On 1 February 2000, Adalah Advocate Orna Kohn sent a letter to Moshe Ya'alon on behalf of Mr. Mahameed. The letter argued that the order forbidding Mr. Mahameed from entering the West Bank constituted a violation of Mr. Mahameed's right of freedom of movement. Additionally, the letter argued that the arbitrary nature of the order, which was issued without warning and without any opportunity for clarification or appeal, grossly violated Mr. Mahameed's right to due process. Ms. Kohn's letter also took issue with the secret evidence relied on by the military, the unclassified summary of which she characterized as "vague, circumstantial, and in several instances incorrect." Ms. Kohn also pointed out that Israeli law applies a higher standard of scrutiny to decisions that violate a citizen's fundamental rights. In this instance, according to Ms. Kohn, the military not only failed to demonstrate that the threat posed by Mr. Mahameed warranted the violation of his fundamental rights, but also failed to demonstrate that they exhausted or even implemented less intrusive or damaging actions. 

Since Mr. Mahameed first approached Adalah in mid-January, Adalah has discovered six additional orders denying individual citizens of Israel entrance to the West Bank. In all six cases, the recipient of the order has been a Palestinian citizen of the state. As a result of this discovery, Ms. Kohn is also currently representing Ibrahim Kanani, who received an order forbidding him from entering the West Bank on 30 January 2000.