Boaz AlbertThe writer has a vineyard in Yitzhar in Samaria, where he lives with his wife and six children.
In a letter written for a Hebrew publication, Hakol Hayehudi, Boaz Albert explains why he decided to violate the administration order expelling him from his home. That action let to his arrest, where unwarranted force was used according to the Israeli courts. He has asked Arutz Sheva to post the translation of his side of the story and his opinions on the issues involved.
Not only does the injustice motivate me to fight, but also the ability to say that I am here in Yitzhar, in the hills of Shomron, gives me strength. Not for the sake of the state but due to the fact that I am a part of the Jewish nation and this is its land.
About a month ago the police gave me a “special monitoring order”- an administrative order that forbids me to be in the area of Judea and Samaria for six months. The order was signed by the area's IDF Central Commander, Nitzan Alon. The order, as is customary for administrative orders, does not describe the circumstances surrounding its issuance except for the vague explanation of “security reasons.”
When I received the order, I declared that I did not intend to honor it. I stayed in my house and was arrested, but quickly released when it was pointed out that there was a technical mistake on the date of the order. Therefore I received a new, corrected order.
After a few days I returned to my house, and since then, now over two weeks , I have been in Yitzhar, blatantly violating the order. As I write these lines I am still in my home. I believe that sooner or later I will be arrested again and for a more significant period of time. [Boaz was in fact, violently arrested soon after - a taser gun was used on him in front of his children although he did not resist arrest, and the incident was filmed. The resulting protest led to rethinking the use of taser guns and his release - ed. Click here for story.]
It is my desire to explain what drives me in this struggle and focus on two points: the injustice of the order and the misconception of why we are here in the Land of Israel.
The injustice of the order:
I’d like to provide some background for those who are not well versed in the differences between the ordinary criminal justice system and the Civil Administratiom system, which is in force in Judea and Samaria.
The State of Israel is a country of enlightened laws which protect the rights of the individual, including the rights of a suspected criminal. The fundamental principle of the law is that a person is “innocent until proven guilty,” and this is even in the extreme case that the person admits to the charges against him or when the crime was photographed and publicized. So long as the legal process against him has not ended, the person is only a “suspect.”
I do not identify with the system of law in Israel. Jews desiring to be loyal to the Torah have a unique, completely different, ‘criminal procedure.’ As written in Choshen Mishpat, in the laws of judges, ‘anyone who turns to the courts of the Gentiles is wicked and it is as if he cursed and raised his hand against our teacher Moses’ (Choshen Mishpat, Siman 26, se’if 1).
Nevertheless, there is the understanding that “the law of the land is the law.” As long as we have not merited having rule according to the laws of the Torah, there must be a legal system for thieves and murderers which acts under the principles of justice and equality and allows us to move around safely without fear of violent criminals.
Please note that what I write further on is in accordance with the proponents of the law that exists today.
In order to punish a citizen of Israel for a crime, the prosecution must pass each of three hurdles where the suspect/accused/convict is entitled to defend himself with all the tools available.
In the beginning, the accused is called into the police station and the suspicions are explained to him. At this stage the suspect is entitled to refute the allegations and prove his innocence. Only if the police were not convinced by his explanation do criminal proceedings begin.
The next stage is the trial where all the evidence against a person is presented before him. He and his lawyer are able to contradict each and every piece of evidence or provide proof that there is still doubt and thereby prove the innocence of the accused. Only if after a process lasting many months, the court is convinced in the person’s guilt beyond all reasonable doubt is the defendant convicted. Yet still the process is not complete.
In the next stage, the convicted person is entitled to argue over the sentencing. Usually there is a significant difference between the state’s desired sentence and the court’s final decision (certainly in the case of a plea bargain).
And still, we have not mentioned the right of appeal and other rights.
Now we will enter another world entirely. What is an administrative order, the proceeding that prevails in the IDF Civil Government of Judea and Samaria, which are not subject to Israeli law?
The IDF Central Command has the power to arbitrarily issue an order that restricts the freedom of movement of a person in Judea and Samaria without giving any explanation. The person against whom the order has been issued does not know what he is suspected of and therefore cannot deny the allegations against him.
In theory, there is the right to an appeal, but in truth it is a rubber stamp. This is because the president of the “Military Court of Appeals” (this is the body to which the appeal is brought) is an officer with the rank of Colonel and there is no way he would contradict the decision of a general who is two levels higher than he (and this is assuming the president of the court is hearing the appeal and not a lower junior officer).
Further, the appeal has little effect when the appealing side has no idea what it is appealing and does not relate to the specific accusations.
There is logic in giving power to the general to issue such orders. Many times there is information against terrorist organizations that the Shabak (ISA) cannot present in court by bringing witnesses or other admissible evidence. Conversely, anything not dealing with such organizations and which does not relate to buses exploding in Israeli cities does not require any measures beyond the ordinary criminal procedure.
We will return to my case.
Using procedures which are special for murderers and terrorists against Jews who are accused of “public disturbance” or trivial property offenses is moral corruption. However, in my case it is clear that I am not even suspected of such minor offenses.
I don’t know what the suspicions are against me and no one has been able to explain it to me.
As I have explained, I don’t know what the suspicions are against me and no one has been able to explain it to me. I can only guess what the “the secret information” against me is and the most threatening thing I have done is write my opinions freely in articles in Hakol Hayehudi publications and in various other public forums.
In my case the order involves expelling a family with six children from its house, finding a new apartment, enrolling the children in different schools and finding an alternative source of income. Perhaps the worst damage is the distancing from our circle of friends and natural environment. On top of this, I am a farmer and have to deal with my vineyard which I work on every year. And now, a few weeks before the harvest, I am to be cut off from my fields?
I think that anyone who has some sense of justice and honesty should rise up against this arbitrariness where anyone who upsets the system is immediately punished with no explanation and has no ability to defend himself if he lives in Judea and Samaria. This is unlike any principles of criminal law in Israel. This is not the struggle of the people of Yitzhar, not even of the settlement enterprise - this is the struggle against a basic injustice.
If there are suspicions, then with all due respect, present them and I will deal with them in the accepted manner.
In addition to the basic injustice, there is another deep-rooted problem:
In my humble opinion, the root of the matter is in the fundamental question “in whose name are we here?”
The security establishment relates to communities in Judea and Samaria as a kind of experiment and to the Jewish presence here as a privilege. Someday, in the eyes of the security establishment, the government will make a political decision about the future of this area and until then, you are entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Further, they grant this privliege on condition that you behave well.
Vis-a-vis Arabs, the attitude is completely different. No one even suggests that the Arab population suffers because of problematic behavior on their part. Even in the case of a convicted murderer not serving his full sentence is understandable because he is taking legitimate and reasonable actions as a natural resident who resists the foreign ‘occupation.’
Or in other words it is “settlers” vs. “locals.” Recently, the Shomron Brigade commander issued a particularly detailed document which refers to the Arabs of the region as the “local residents.”
I see the matter differently.
I am here in Yitzhar among the hills of the Shomron, not for the reasons of the State of Israel rather because I am a part of the Jewish Nation and this is its portion of land [on earth]. For twenty years the state has supported and encouraged the settlement movement and there is no doubt that we must be very grateful and not disparage the help we have received. But all of this has been the goodwill of the state, not because we are committed to this land (in fact, the state does not see itself as committed to this land). Now that the State has decided to fight the settlement movement, it is clear that the only chance of the movement continuing is through explaining that we live here for reasons that predate the State and the Arabs.
The Arabs are actually foreign invaders whose place is not here, and I have not a shadow of doubt that one day they will not be here. It will happen sooner or later, with consent or without, I have no idea how, but it will happen.
Gush Katif was destroyed because her residents were not able to openly and clearly say, “if the State wants to send its soldiers, fine. We stay here.” The people of Gush Katif, some of whom are my closest friends and family, connected their fate with the fate of the State without any conditions and therefore they were thrown out to live in mobile homes.
Therefore, not only does the injustice cause me to enter this fight; rather, or perhaps mainly, I fight to make it clear that the Central Command does not have the authority to decide whether I can live here or not. I am here in the name of the Jewish Nation and the commander is attempting to establish facts in the name of the civil administration of the State of Israel. We are simply talking on different levels. He wants to help develop our communities by providing extra security? Wonderful! He wants to harm and disturb all of the above? I am not here because of his generous consent.
A final point:
Administrative expulsion orders inherently include a permit to stay in one of the communities of Judea and Samaria, in my case it is in the community of Shaarei Tikvah.
This is not due to generosity from the Central Command, it is a legal necessity.
The Geneva Convention provides a prohibition forbidding the commander of an occupied area to expel a resident outside the occupied area. However, the commander is permitted to demarcate a certain area where a person is allowed to be. Therefore Nitzan Alon is following the rule, he is not expelling me, G-d forbid, from Judea and Samaria, he is confining me within Shaarei Tikvah.
The point, for someone who has not noticed, is that the government relates to the ‘problematic’ settlers according to international treaties and the relation between us is one of ‘a commander of an occupying army’ and the ‘occupied population.’
How will all this end? I don’t know. I am certain of the justice of my side in the matter and with G-d’s help it will all turn out for the best.