Human Rights Watch revealed on Tuesday that Israel has forcefully deported some 15,000 Palestinians since it occupied Jerusalem in 1967, in what could be deemed as a “war crime.”
“Residency revocations often effectively force Palestinians from east Jerusalem, who are protected by virtue of Israel’s occupation under the Fourth Geneva Convention, to leave the territory they live in,” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director, said in a report.
“Deportation or forced transfers of any part of the population of an occupied territory could amount to war crimes.”
“Israel claims to treat Jerusalem as a unified city, but the reality is effectively one set of rules for Jews and another for Palestinians,” said the report.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War in a move never recognized by the international community.
The more than 300,000 Palestinians there have permanent residency status but are not Israeli nationals.
While east Jerusalem residents are allowed to apply for citizenship, most do not as they view it as recognition of Israeli sovereignty.
Since 1967, 14,595 Palestinians have had their residence status revoked, effectively barring them from remaining in the city of their birth, the HRW report said citing interior ministry figures.
The majority of these revocations were due to spending periods of time out of the city, with Israel arguing their “center of life” was not in Jerusalem.
The Israeli interior ministry spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The HRW report came shortly after a visit by Jordan King Abdullah II to Ramallah where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday.
Discussions focused on efforts to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, as well as the latest tensions over the al-Aqsa Msoque in Jerusalem.
Jordan serves as the Muslim custodian of the Aqsa Compound, home to the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques.
On Sunday, Abdullah told lawmakers in Jordan that “without the Hashemite custodianship and the steadfastness of the Jerusalemites, the holy sites would have been lost many years ago.”
“Our success requires one stand with the Palestinian brothers, so that our cause wouldn’t be weakened and our rights would be maintained,” he said.