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The deportation of 415 Palestinians to Lebanon in 1992: HCJ petition 5975/92
5975/92 | documents: 1  |  Updates: 0 In early November, 1992, several members of the Israeli security forces were killed by Palestinians within a short period of time. On December 16, 1992, the Government of Israel, decided, in complete secrecy, to deport from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip hundreds of Palestinians "inciting acts of terror." The deportation was designated temporary, not exceeding two years, and could be carried out immediately without prior notice. In the explanation to the resolution, the government claimed that "the legal instruments available at present do no allow for an effective war against the rising terror."

The clandestine sudden-deportation started that same night. The military picked up over 400 Palestinians from their homes or detention facilities, had them handcuffed and blindfolded and put them on buses. The deportees were told nothing of their destination or reason for the trip, and their families were likewise not notified. Despite the military censor's attempt to suppress publication of the deportation – intending to transfer all the deportees to Lebanese soil before legality of the resolution would be placed before by the High Court of Justice (HCJ) – news of the bus convoy heading to the northern border reached HaMoked and other human rights organizations. HaMoked and the other organizations rushed to submit petitions to the HCJ justice on-duty, at his home, to instruct the military to stop the deportation. HaMoked argued in its petition that the deportation contradicted international conventions, was carried out without giving notice to the deportees and their families and without judicial review. HaMoked raised the concern that the government had passed secret legislation altering current laws – which is prohibited under every standard set by the Supreme Court. Arguments were later added to the petitions, stressing that deportation in general and mass-deportation in particular were prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Additionally, it was claimed that as the deportation had not been based on charges against individuals, it constituted collective punishment, itself prohibited under Israeli and international law.

Late at night, Justice Barak issued an injunction order halting the deportation. The HCJ hearing opened at 5 a.m., and 14 hours later – throughout which the deportees were kept, blindfolded and handcuffed, on the buses near the border – the HCJ permitted the military to resume the deportation, and postponed the hearing on the deportation's legality to a later date. Although the Lebanese Government objected to receive them, the 415 deportees were transported to Zumriyah Pass north of the "security zone". The deportees were left stranded in this no-man's-land, under harsh winter conditions, outside any state or humanitarian protection.

In the days following the deportation, HaMoked petitioned the HCJ for publication of the deportees' list of names and requested their return pending the court's decision on the legality of the deportation. HaMoked argued that a proper balance had not been achieved between the harm caused to the deportees and the anticipated benefit to state security, which had led the court to permit the sudden-deportation prior to a decision on its legality. HaMoked added that the deportation had been carried out in haste, without discretion or oversight, and that the state had misrepresented the situation to the court – claiming that each deportee was posing a threat of such magnitude to state security, which necessitated that none of them be allowed to remain in Israel, not even under arrest pending a fair judicial review of his case – as evidenced by the fact that the military had admitted that ten men (and followed by six more) had been deported by mistake, and by the fact that the military still had no lists of the deportees' names, even after the deportation. HaMoked added that it was significant to note that the Minister of Justice and then-Attorney General Dorit Beinisch had both disputed the legality of the deportation.

On January 28, 1993, the HCJ justices rejected the petitions by HaMoked and others. In the judgment, the justices ruled that the military commander had exceeded his authority and that the temporary deportation orders issued at that point in time were illegal, however, the justices endorsed the deportation on the grounds that it had also been based on the Defence (Emergency) Regulations, 1945, dating to the British mandate.

"The government executed mass deportation under a thick veil of secrecy in a blatant attempt to circumvent the HCJ, and it was not even censured for it. This was one of the Israeli Supreme Court's greatest tests – the judiciary vs. the security establishment – and regrettably, the court failed to carry out this task with due dignity" (concluding words on the deportation by Naomi Levitzki in her biography of Aharon Barak, His Honor, 2001, in Hebrew, p. 182).

HCJ 5973/92 - Association for Civil Rights in Israel et al. v. Minister of Defense et al. Judgment
Judgment / Supreme Court  |  5975/92  |  28.1.1993
The HCJ denied the petitions that challenged the legality of the orders deporting 415 residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, holding that the orders were valid even though the deportees were denied the right to be heard prior to their deportation. However, the HCJ held that the Respondents must allow the petitioners to appeal the decision following its implementation, basing its ruling ... (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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