Press Releases

Israeli Interior Ministry Releases New Data on ID Card Confiscations in Jerusalem

Israeli Interior Ministry Releases New Data on ID Card Confiscations in Jerusalem 

BADIL Alternative Information Center 
For Immediate Release 
2 February 1998 

In response to a request by BADIL-Project for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights for updated figures on ID-card confiscation and family reunification in East Jerusalem, the following information was provided by Rafa’el Cohen, Director of Population Registry of the Interior Ministry on 17 December 1997: 

"In the course of 1997, the permanent resident status of some 606 Palestinian residents was found to have expired. 500 additional cases are still being studied. 

By December 1997, some 7,470 applications for family reunification are being studied by the Ministry." 

Project for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights Comments on the Ministry’s Data: 

a) A comparison between the official figure for 1997 (606 cases) and the official figure for 1996 (689 cases) shows that the number of ID card confiscations has remained stable over the past two years. Altogether, some 1,300 Palestinian families (i.e. at least 4,000 individuals) have thus been made into foreigners in their hometown by an Israeli policy which continues unhampered, despite local and international protest. Compared with available (partial) official figures for previous years (1968-1995), the increase in ID card confiscations over the past two years amounts to more than 500%. 

b) A comparison between the current figures and the official figures on ID card- confiscation released by the Ministry previously in May 1997, suggests that legal and public pressure might have been successful in the sense, that the Ministry was forced to justify - and sometimes reverse - its decision to confiscate an ID-card.  Based on Ministry statements quoted by the Israeli and Palestinian press (Ha’aretz, 5-3-1997; al Quds, 5-5-1997), 358 ID cards had actually been confiscated during the first four months of 1997, 1017 additional cases had been listed for confiscation (186 of them were able to re-claim their resident status, 402 were still being studied, the status of the remaining 429 cases was not specified). The recent official numbers on ID-card confiscations for the whole year of 1997 thus suggest a slight slow down of the pace of actual confiscations (from 1,080 expected based on the rate during the first four-month period to 606 according to the current official data) and some decrease in the number of cases slated for future confiscation (from 1017 in May to 500 in December 1997). 

c) However, the apparent slight decrease in the overall number of cases (confiscations and cases slated for confiscation) may be explained also by the fact that Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem - terrified by the Ministry’s policy - have generally avoided approaching the Ministry’s offices, except in real emergency situations. This attitude also explains the decrease in the number of family reunification applications from a constant average of some 10,000 in the past to 7,470 by December 1997.  

For additional information contact: BADIL Alternative Information Center, tel/fax. (2) 747346, PO Box 728 Bethlehem; email: