For 50 years, ever since the start of the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians have been banned from any kind of political expression, even peaceful ones, Amnesty International (AI) said on Saturday.
Marking 50 years since Israel issued Military Order 101, a law that punishes Palestinians for peaceful political expression, anyone breaching the order faces imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a hefty fine, said AI.
It said that, since 1967, Israel has arrested and detained hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, under military orders. Many were detained under Military Order 101 solely for attending peaceful protests that were deemed to be political.
In addition, the display of flags or emblems, and the publication of any document or image with politically significant content, without a permit from an Israeli military commander are banned.
Over the last 50 years, Palestinians have been arrested and detained for displaying a poster in a room, if it was deemed political, and for raising the Palestinian flag. Such acts continue to be criminalized despite the fact that in 1993 Palestinians signed a peace accord with Israel that was meant to recognize their political rights, and United Nations recognition of Palestine as a non-member state in 2012 as well as 135 UN member states recognizing Palestine as a state.
“And yet, raising the Palestinian flag in the West Bank or displaying the ‘wrong’ poster in a room is still a criminal act under Israeli military orders, unless an Israeli army commander authorizes it,” said AI.
The law also applies to verbal or other expressions of support or sympathy for the activities and aims of any organization deemed illegal under military orders.
“Virtually all cases of Palestinians brought before Israeli military courts end in convictions. Most convictions are the result of plea bargains. This is because Palestinian defendants know the entire system is so unfair that if they go on trial, they will be convicted and given a longer sentence,” according to the AI report.
AI called on Israel to rescind Military Order 101 now.