RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israel’s military has issued new orders that human rights groups warned Sunday could lead to the expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank.

Under the new rules, anyone caught living in the West Bank without an Israeli permit could face expulsion within as little as three days or be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

The orders are to go into effect Tuesday. The military said existing law already allows for the expulsion of illegal residents and that the new order adds another layer of judicial oversight over deportation procedures.

However, 10 Israeli human rights groups urged Defense Minister Ehud Barak to rescind the new rules. The rights groups said the orders are so vague and sweeping that virtually all West Bankers are potentially at risk.

For example, the military does not define what permits are required to shield against deportation, the groups said. The military later clarified that West Bankers with residency rights would not be targeted.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the new measures “an assault on ordinary Palestinians, and an affront to the most fundamental principles of human rights.”

Erekat and the Israeli activists said they believe the initial targets will include Gazans living in the West Bank and the foreign spouses of West Bank residents. Tens of thousands of people are at risk in these two groups, said the rights group HaMoked.

Since the second Palestinian uprising started in 2000, Israel has prevented movement between impoverished Gaza and the West Bank, the territories that flank Israel and are sought by the Palestinians for their state. Before the travel ban, thousands of Gazans had moved to the West Bank in search of jobs.

However, the Israeli-issued ID cards of the Gazans living in the West Bank still identify them as Gaza residents, since Israel has refused to change their addresses. This would make them vulnerable under the new orders.

Over the past decade, Israel also tightened restrictions on immigration to the West Bank, meaning thousands of foreigners married to West Bankers don’t have legal residence.

The new orders are an amendment to a 1969 order that had originally taken aim at infiltrators sneaking in from neighboring enemy states. The new order broadens the definition of an infiltrator to anyone in the West Bank without a permit.

Also on Sunday, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch said Israel and Hamas have failed to conduct credible probes into alleged war crimes during last year’s Gaza war.

Human Rights Watch presented a 62-page review of the investigative efforts of both sides. It urged the international community to pressure both sides to launch independent investigations before a July deadline set by the United Nations.

Both Israel and Hamas have denied committing war crimes.


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