HCJ 10130/16 – Head of the council of Al Khader V the IDF Commander in the West Bank

Petition submission date: 28.12.2016

In 1971 Israel applied the “regional defense” doctrine to Israeli settlements in the West Bank by way of a military order. This doctrine is part of Israel’s defense strategy, which considers frontline communities inside Israel proper to be part of a comprehensive military strategy in which they are supposed to assist military forces defend Israel against enemy invasion. In its West Bank settlements, Israel’s “regional defense” doctrine is used to justify operating settlement Civilian Security Coordinators (CSCs) and civilian security squads in settlements. In practice, their role is limited to protecting the security of the settlements, and subsequently the unauthorized outposts.

The order gives civilians appointed as Civilian Security Coordinators, or CSCs, broad policing powers that involve potential human rights violations, which they can use against the Palestinian population. They have the power to detain and search Palestinians, to seize their personal belongings and even arrest them without a warrant. CSCs may “use any reasonable measure” against Palestinians in order to perform an arrest, including use of force.

Until 2009, CSCs were permitted to use their powers only within the municipal boundaries of a settlement or Israeli industrial zone in the West Bank. However, since then, “guarding zones”, where CSCs are permitted to operate have been instituted. These guarding zones enable CSCs to use their powers in privately owned Palestinian land.

In 2014, Yesh Din published a report entitled “The Lawless Zone”, which exposed how state authorities have been shedding their obligations and transferring policing and security powers to civilians. The report shows how the role of CSC effectively means the transfer of policing and law enforcement powers to an ideological interest group which openly and bluntly rejects the provisions of international law.

In November 2016, Yesh Din petitioned the High Court to instruct the IDF commander in the West Bank to issue advance notice of any planned changes to West Bank guarding zones which delineate the jurisdiction of CSCs in and around settlements. The petition also seeks the exclusion of privately owned Palestinian land from CSC guarding zones.

In December 2018, the State submitted its response to the petition. In its response, the State objected to the petition’s demand that the State issue advance notice regarding maps which determine the guarding zones. The State claimed that this information is public, and that persons interested in examining the maps may contact the relevant DCO responsible for the area. The State did commit to publish the maps issued previously in the publication of military proclamations and on the Military Advocate General’s website. Regarding the petition’s second demand, the State response claimed, among other things, that including private Palestinian land in CSCs’ guarding zones is a security need because some of the Israeli settlements include enclaves of private Palestinian land, and some of the Israeli outposts are built on such land.

The justices accepted the State’s position regarding both demands set forth in the petition during a hearing on June 3, 2019. Regarding publication of the guarding zone maps, the justices ruled that the State cannot be forced to publish this information in advance. Additionally, the State’s position was accepted that the demand raised in the petition to remove private Palestinian land from the settlement guarding zones is too general. The justices added that the petitioners may seek remedy from the court in concrete cases in which their property rights are infringed.

Given the Court’s position and after the State committed to publishing new and future guarding zones within two weeks of their approval, the petition was stricken.

Petition status: stricken