Haaretz reports on the strange case of a mystery Gazan who the Shabak has prohibited from returning to his home there. The man has a permit to visit Israel and normally travels back and forth from Gaza to Israel. However, all of a sudden the secret police determined that it would endanger the man for him to return to Gaza. They’re doing two things here: one, they’re substituting their own judgment about his safety for his own which is quite infantilizing; second, they’re implying that he’s an informer so he will definitely be killed if he returns. So much for the kinder, gentler Shabak.
The fact that the man has brought a case to the Supreme Court demanding that he be allowed to return to Gaza is a clear repudiation of the stupidity of Shabak’s claim that he is in danger if he returns.
In discussing this case with George Hale, Maan’s English news editor, I’ve come up with what I think is a cogent theory about what’s happening here. There have been many news reports that Shabak recruits Gazans applying for permits to enter Israel for medical care to be their collaborators once they return home. My strong hunch is that this man, in order to gain the life-saving treatment required to save his life or the life of a loved one, agreed to collaborate. But once the medical care was provided and the Shabak came calling for its pound of flesh he refused.
In order to maintain its deterrent, the Shabak has to make an example of this man. It has to punish him for the effrontery of turning them down and breaking his half of the Faustian bargain. So it refuses to allow him to return to his home in order that other recruits don’t turn around and do the same thing to them. And the Supreme Court refuses to step on the toes of the Shabak because it believes the secret police should have free reign to recruit their spies and punish them if necessary in whatever way it wishes.
Another strange aspect to this case is that Israel, when it releases West Bank prisoners from detention often refuses to allow them to return there and instead dumps them in Gaza under the assumption that it is the terrorist dumping ground. In this case, the detained individual seems to be the only Palestinian who wants to return to Gaza but can’t.
The man has been charged with no crime and isn’t even imprisoned. For the life of me, I can’t understand under what basis can a country forcibly prevent someone who isn’t even a citizen or under arrest from returning to their own home? It simply beggars belief. And the fact that the Israeli Supreme Court approved this Shabak hocus pocus speaks very poorly for the Court’s upholding of democratic and human rights. The ruling seems to imply that a non-citizen of Israel within its boundaries can be treated arbitrarily by the Shabak in almost any way it wishes.
Gisha, the human rights NGO representing the Gazan points out that the court decision was made under the British Mandate emergency laws now 60+ years old and not even originally established by the State. In 2011, you’d think whatever emergency existed in 1946 would have long passed. The point is that a state that is not fully democratic feels the need to rely on the same types of emergency laws which the Egyptian just overthrew and which the Syrians are attempting to overthrow. What about Israel? Isn’t it time? Or does Israel feel the need to use the same types of laws beloved of dictators like Mubarak and Assad?
Emile Samaha says
Well, here is a challenge for you Mr Silverstein – find the name of this man and enlighten us all…
Information suppression orders or “gags” are a thing of yesterday as this excellent web blog and others have shown time and time again, you cannot stop the free flow of information!
الله سوريا الحرية
Richard Silverstein says
I’m working on it. I could use some help inside Gaza if anyone can point me to someone there who might identify the family of this man.
Assaf Oron says
Thanks Richard. Excellent points. I’m crossposting on the Occupation Magazine.
Rupa Shah says
I am sure, stranger things happen there! Funny, I can not find this article in the English online edition of Ha’aretz ( spent more than half an hour searching it– after finding the translation for the header from online dictionary ). Great post Mr Silverstein. Thank you.
Richard Silverstein says
They never translated Levinson’s article to English. Isn’t that weird??