Israel’s deportations and forcible transfers of Palestinians out of the west bank during the second intifada

The purpose of the present study is to assess the legality, under international law, of the forms of deportations and forcible transfers of Palestinians from the West Bank adopted by the Israeli government since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000.1 The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip together form the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). 

The first instance thereof occurred in May 2002, on the basis of an international agreement. In April-May 2002, around the end of the large-scale Israeli military incursions in the West Bank (“Operation Defensive Shield”), a diverse group of Palestinians and foreigners were inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, under siege from the Israeli occupying forces. Under a secret agreement brokered with international assistance, 39 of the Palestinians were deported or transferred on 10 May 2002, 26 of them to the Gaza Strip and 13 others abroad, mainly to Europe. This study will show that these departures were coerced, in contravention of the international prohibition on deportations and forcible transfers of civilians in occupied territory, and not legalised by the existence of the agreement.

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