Thousands of Palestinians traveling abroad have reportedly been stripped of residency status.
Documents from Israel’s justice ministry reveal that Israel used a covert procedure to cancel the residency status of 140,000 West Bank Palestinians between 1967 and 1994, Ha’artz newspaper reported Wednesday.
The report added that the procedure was used on Palestinian residents of the occupied West Bank who wished to travel abroad via Jordan. They were ordered at the Allenby Bridge border crossing to exchange their ID cards for a card allowing them to cross.
Palestinians who found themselves "no longer residents" include students who graduated from foreign universities, businessmen, and laborers who left for work in the Persian Gulf states.
An Israeli human rights organization, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, has criticized the move and called it an illegitimate demographic policy and a grave violation of international law.
"Mass withdrawal of residency rights from tens of thousands of West Bank residents, tantamount to permanent exile from their homeland, remains an illegitimate demographic policy and a grave violation of international law," the center said.
The rights group noted that an unknown number of Gaza residents had lost residency rights in a similar manner.
The center called on Tel Aviv to fix the ongoing wrong at once, restore residency rights to all affected Palestinians and allow them and their families to return to their homeland.