Israeli officials expel Hamas lawmaker from Jerusalem
Ahmad Attoun, who was elected to the Palestinian Authority parliament in 2006, was brought before an Israeli military court near Ramallah on Tuesday morning, which ruled to expel him. He was later taken to the Kalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, where he was ordered to cross into the West Bank with clear instructions not to enter Jerusalem again.
At the Kalandia checkpoint, Attoun said the expulsion was inappropriate and would separate him from his family.
“The expulsion is unfair and violates international law that bans an occupying power from displacing people under occupation from their homes,” he said.
Attoun was among several officials with Hamas, a militant Islamic group that Israel and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization, who saw their Jerusalem residency permits revoked by the Israeli Ministry of Interior shortly after the parliamentary election.
Attoun and others were arrested in a general Israeli sweep of Hamas officials in the West Bank, served time in jail, and later took refuge at the Red Cross office in Jerusalem to keep from being expelled pending a decision on their status by the Israeli Supreme Court.
In late September, undercover Israeli agents tricked Attoun into stepping outside the Red Cross office and took him into custody.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem following its occupation in 1967, considers it part of Israel proper and applies Israeli law to its Palestinian residents.
The Israeli Supreme Court last month gave the Ministry of Interior three months to explain why it wants Attoun and the other lawmakers expelled from Jerusalem.
Dozens of Palestinian activists from East Jerusalem are worried that if the court upholds the expulsion decision they might be next in line.
-- Maher Abukhater
Photo: Ahmad Attoun speaks to the media at the Kalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 6, 2011. Credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters