Association for Civil Rights in Israel Successfully Challenges Movement Restriction in Jordan Valley
by Association for Civil Rights in Israel, 2 May 2007
In response to ACRI`s appeal to the Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, in December 2006, demanding the cancellation of the directives banning all Palestinian residents of the West Bank from entering the area of the Jordan Valley (with the exception of those Palestinians whose registered address is in one of the communities in the Valley), the Defense Ministry examined the claims made by ACRI and have decided to cancel the movement restrictions by the end of May 2007. From then on, all residents of the West Bank will be allowed to enter the Jordan Valley subject to undergoing security checks.
ACRI`s intervention laid emphasis on the fact the prohibition on Palestinian movement in the Valley, which violates the basic rights of the Palestinian population, has never been authorized by a written order. The directives are enforced by the Israeli security forces through IDF checkpoints on the main roads, mobile checkpoints, earth mounds, and the destruction of roads and paths to make them inaccessible to vehicles, and prohibit Palestinian vehicular and pedestrian movement and entry in the area of the Jordan Valley. This area comprises large tracts of agricultural lands which are the primary source of income for thousands of Palestinian families, many of whom do not live in the closed Jordan Valley area and are therefore denied access to their lands. ACRI further stressed that while the Palestinian population is prevented from entering the area, Israelis are permitted in the area without any restrictions whatsoever. The sweeping ban therefore constitutes discrimination against Palestinians on the basis of national origin, in addition to violating basic human rights and isolating the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank.
ACRI welcomes the Defense Ministry`s decision to cancel the sweeping and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinian movement in the Jordan Valley area. It is the responsibility of the Israeli authorities to ensure that this decision is implemented by all the relevant security bodies, and to ensure that such illegal restrictions are not reintroduced in the future.