TEL AVIV (Jun. 29)
Israel deported eight Palestinians to Lebanon Thursday, alleging they were organizers of the Palestinian uprising, now in its 19th month.
Four are from the West Bank and four from the Gaza Strip.
Their ouster brought to 55 the number of Palestinian activists deported by Israel since the intifada began in December 1987.
Israel braced for criticism from the United States and human rights groups.
In Washington, there was no State Department briefing Thursday. But a department official said the deportations were “particularly harmful” at a time when Israel is seeking international support for its peace plan.
“We have been strongly opposed to deportations,” the official went on to say. “We have made this clear in public and we have said this to the government of Israel many times.”
The latest expulsions were carried out within hours after the High Court of Justice upheld the deportation orders, which were issued by the Israel Defense Force 12 months ago.
The eight had appealed their cases, first to a military tribunal and then to the High Court. The accused waited in jail for months while their lawyers argued in vain for a reversal.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin has proposed allowing the army to deport Palestinian troublemakers without giving them opportunity for appeal.
But Justice Minister Dan Meridor is said to be opposed to the idea.
The eight deported Thursday were ferried out of Israel by military helicopters.
Sources in Lebanon said they landed at Zummareya, a village near the Israeli-controlled security zone in southern Lebanon.
The deportations were the first since Jan. 1, when 13 alleged leaders of the uprising were expelled to Lebanon.
The IDF identified the eight deportees as Ata Ahmad Hussein Karsh, Nabil Mohammed Tamus, Riad Waji Kamel Ajur and Mohammed Saadi Emdukh, all from the Gaza Strip.
Those from the West Bank are Majed Abdullah Labadi of Abu Dis, Radwan Ziadi of Hebron, Akif Wahid Hamdallah of Anabta and Taysir Mohammed Nasrallah of the Balata refugee camp, near Nablus.