1992 Mass Deportation

During the first two weeks of December 1992, six members of the Israeli armed forces were killed by Palestinian militants. On December 16, the Israeli government ordered deportation for up to two years of "inciters, those inhabitants of the area who endanger human lives by their activities, or those who incite others to such actions." Though the pretext for the deportation was the killing of the six soldiers, Israel never tried to claim that those being deported were responsible for the killings. Without being given any prior notification, 415 Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (most of whom were members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad) were handcuffed, blindfolded, put on buses and driven north towards Lebanon. The Israeli military tried to censor news of the deportation, but word leaked out, and several human rights organizations immediately filed petitions with Israel’s High Court of Justice, which issued a temporary injunction against the deportation. The court held a hearing on the deportation which lasted 14 hours, during which the deportees remained on the buses blindfolded and handcuffed. Though no specific deportee was discussed, the High Court allowed the deportation to continue in a five to two decision. The deportees were left in no-man’s land on a hilltop area in Southern Lebanon, as the Lebanese army prevented the deportees from continuing any deeper into Lebanon. In ensuing weeks, it was announced by the Israeli military that 16 of the deportees had been deported by mistake and would be allowed to return to the Occupied [no-lexicon]Palestinian Territories[/no-lexicon]. Five more were allowed to return for health reasons. In February 1993, Israel made an agreement with the United States to let the deportees return early. Hamas’s political strength was increased due to the incident, and several of its future leaders (including Ismail Haniyeh and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi) rose to political prominence while in deportation. The mass deportation was condemned by prominent human rights groups as a flagrant violation of human rights, collective punishment, and a violation of Israeli and international law. See "The Mass Deportation of 1992," B’tselem, Jan 1, 2011; and "Hamas win sparks soul-searching," Jim Muir, BBC News, Jan 28, 2006.

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