Israelis Order New ID Cards; Arabs See Bid for More Control
Israeli soldiers today began a monthlong campaign to force 400,000 Arabs in the Gaza Strip to renew their government ID cards in a move Palestinians said was aimed at increasing military control over the occupied territories.
Arab underground leaders issued a warning from a mosque loudspeaker, ordering Gazans not to cooperate with the army. They said the program was an attempt to abort the Palestinian uprising.
Hundreds of people crowded into a school in Gaza City which has been converted into a makeshift registration center for obtaining the new identity cards.
“At dawn this morning, the troops entered people’s homes. They knocked at the door and asked for IDs and told us we had to change them,” said Sheik Khalo, a Muslim religious leader from Gaza City.
One witness told an Arab reporter that soldiers confiscated one portion of the Israeli-issued identity cards, without which the card becomes invalid.
2 Photos and $10
Soldiers told residents of Rimal, a Gaza City neighborhood of 8,000 people that was the first area targeted by the program, to bring two color photographs, fill out applications and pay $10 for new cards.
The orders affect Palestinians between the ages of 18 and 60.
Israeli authorities say the new cards are being issued because many of the old ones are torn and worn.
Palestinians say the measure is aimed at increasing military control over the Arab population and breaking a tax boycott, one of the chief tactics of the uprising. Military officials have said residents will have to pay back taxes before being issued new ID cards.
Card Possession Vital
Arabs in the occupied lands must carry an identity card at all times and show the card at frequent security checks. Identity cards are vital for all transactions with the military government.
Israeli troops set up several roadblocks near the registration center and patrolled the area with jeeps.
A group of Palestinian youths about 20 yards from the center set tires afire, threw stones at passing cars and told adults not to renew their cards. When army jeeps raced to the scene, the youths ran off.
“The refusal to change the ID cards is the beginning of civil disobedience,” said one slogan painted on a Gaza wall.
‘They Will Beat Me’
An 18-year-old Palestinian who identified himself only as Mohammed said he would not change his card.
“On the new IDs they will write all the previous times I was in prison,” he said. “If it’s written on the ID that I was in prison, I will get special treatment. Every time I get stopped, they will beat me.”
Also today, Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a Palestinian after their jeep was stoned in the West Bank village of Ramin, the army command said.