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NGO: Israeli soldiers arbitrarily deny entry permits to West Bank Palestinians

“There is no system watching you. If someone bothers you, you can tell that person to scat’

Israeli soldiers serving in the Civil Administration in the West Bank allegedly arbitrarily deny Palestinians permits to enter Israel, according to a report released Monday by an NGO citing former soldiers.

Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli soldiers opposed to Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories, revealed that soldiers from the administration – Israel’s governing body in the West Bank – had access to sensitive information about the Palestinians.

Accounts by ex-troops also underscored that Israeli settlers were directly involved in shaping administration policy, according to Ha’aretz.

The report claimed that under settler influence, the administration saw its mission as the “battle for Area C,” which constitutes about 61 percent of the West Bank and is under Israeli military control.

The Israel Civil Administration is responsible for enforcing building laws for settlers and Palestinians in Area C.

A former soldier who served in the administration, through which Palestinians in the West Bank must pass to obtain most permits, says authorities will revoke all visitation permits given to families of Palestinian prisoners to break hunger strikes .

“Each parent wanted to visit a striking prisoner… so they asked us to cancel the permit, so they couldn’t visit, to pressure them to end the strike,” said the veteran at the NGO.

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Another former soldier who served in the administration in 2017 said he was asked to cancel hundreds of entry permits to Israel following Palestinian attacks, sometimes because the holders were from the same village than the author.

One who served in 2016 said soldiers wielded ‘absolute power’ and were largely unsupervised, Ha’aretz reported.

“The officer can also say no, but if you say no first, no system is watching you. If someone annoys you, you can tell that person to scat,” recalls a former soldier.