Israeli Army Prohibits Released Palestinian Detainees From Crossing Qalandiyah Checkpoint


On 6 April 2002, Adalah Staff Attorney Orna Kohn filed a pre-petition on the behalf of Adalah and LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, to the Israeli Army Legal Advisor for the West Bank regarding 340 Palestinian detainees who were released at the Qalandiyah checkpoint. The detainees, who were from Jenin, Ramallah and the vicinity, had been arrested in Ramallah and held in Ofer detention center. They were released between 10 pm on Friday, 5 April 2002, and 3 am on Saturday, 6 April 2002. Rather than return them to their homes, the Israeli Army brought the detainees to the Qalandiyah checkpoint in buses, where they were told they were free to go. However, upon their release, the soldiers at the checkpoint did not allow them to pass through. Further, the detainees' ID cards were taken from them when they were arrested, and were not returned upon their release. Currently, approximately 200 of the detainees remain in Qalandiyah, as they are unable to pass through the checkpoint. The remaining 140 managed to circumvent the checkpoint and continue on their way. 

In the pre-petition, which was copied to the Attorney General's office, Adalah and LAW asked the Israeli Army to immediately intervene and allow the detainees to cross the Qalandiyah checkpoint and return to their homes. The organizations also called on the Israeli Army to ensure that all detainees released in the future are returned to their place of residence or where they were arrested.

It should be noted that the current situation in the West Bank, including the prolonged curfew and indiscriminate firing by Israeli security forces, puts those travelling between Qalandiyah and Ramallah at grave risk for their lives. In addition, those travelling without IDs are almost certain to be re-arrested. By releasing the detainees at Qalandiyah and refusing to return their IDs, the Israeli Army is violating international humanitarian law, in particular Articles 97 and 135 of the Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Further, the Israeli Army is in violation of Israeli law by jeopardizing the detainees' rights to life, security and human dignity. 

When contacted by Adalah and LAW, the Israeli Army's Deputy Legal Advisor stated that in response to the organization's pre-petition, the Israeli Army is contacting the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in an attempt to arrange buses for the detainees. If available, the buses, which will be allowed passage through Qalandiyah, will transport the detainees to Ramallah in the morning. In the meantime, the 200 detainees will be allowed to sleep in an UNRWA school for the night. In response to the organizations' appeal that future detainees are returned to their place of residence or the place where they were arrested, the Deputy Legal Advisor stated that they are investigating this matter, as well as the issue of the confiscation of the detainees' IDs. Adalah and LAW stated that should this case and the general issue not be resolved promptly, the organizations will file a petition before the Israeli Supreme Court.