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23 Oct 2023

Gianluca Pacchiani, The Times of Israel

OPT/Israel: Workers from Gaza rounded up and indefinitely detained in IDF detention facilities in Jerusalem and the West Bank

"Unable to return to Gaza, hundreds of laborers detained by IDF in the West Bank"

Israel has been holding an unknown number of Gazan laborers in West Bank military facilities since October 7...

The Gazans, whose work permits have meanwhile been revoked, are mostly being detained at the Anatot base northeast of Jerusalem, according to an army spokesperson, who added that they cannot be returned to Gaza for the time being.

Their numbers are estimated to be in the hundreds, with Channel 12 claiming there may be as many as 4,000...

The IDF says that all stranded Gazan laborers were rounded up and transferred to Anatot shortly after the war’s outbreak. Palestinian media and Israeli NGOs have reported, however, that many of them managed to cross into the territories of the Palestinian Authority and sought refuge with local residents. Over the subsequent days, the IDF reportedly sought to locate all Gazans in the West Bank and transfer them to the detention facilities.

Anatot is the only base that the IDF stated it has been using, but the Israeli NGO Gisha also mentioned use of the Ofer detention facility north of Jerusalem, as well as other military bases in the West Bank.

The Palestinian official news agency Wafa reported that 50 Gazan laborers were arrested in Hebron on October 17, and an additional 40 on October 23, while 50 were reportedly detained as they were sheltering in the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem on October 19. Several Gazans were also detained during a raid in the town of al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, on October 22, Wafa said.

The Gazans’ detention does not legally amount to an arrest, and will persist until the situation in Gaza allows for their return. The detainees have not been allowed to seek legal representation, and it is unclear whether their internment under the present conditions is lawful...

Several Israeli human rights groups sent a letter to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Attorney General Gali Baharav Miara on October 12, lamenting the fact that no charges had been presented for holding the laborers in custody, and asserting that their “most fundamental rights, particularly protection for their rights to due process, legal counsel, and judicial review,” were being violated.

The letter, signed by the Center for the Defense of the Individual, the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights and the Adalah Legal Center, alleged that the measure was an act of vengeance, forbidden during hostilities according to international law, and that all Gazan laborers had been admitted into Israel and received work permits following “diligent screening” by Israel’s security...