Ramallah: The Israeli Interior Ministry is suspected of planning to revoke the identity cards of hundreds of Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem on a resident by resident basis, said a senior Palestinian official from the holy city.

The Israeli occupation has revoked approximately 20,000 identity cards from Palestinian residents of the occupied East Jerusalem since that section of the holy city was occupied in 1967 and later annexed by the regime.

Most Palestinian residents of the occupied city have rejected Israeli citizenship and have instead been given blue identity cards, which is considered a permanent residency permit.

The residents are often made to prove they had been permanently living in occupied East Jerusalem in order to keep their residency.

Dr Hanna Eisa, who heads the Christian Islamic Commission in support of the Holy sites in Jerusalem and is a Palestinian expert in national law, said that the occupation has revoked 14,087 identity cards from Palestinians from 1967 until the end of 2011. From the beginning of 2011 to the end of 2013, the Israelis have revoked 5,800 identity cards.

“Israel implements its revocation of identity cards secretly and it does not want the world to know about this policy,” said Dr Eisa. “Israel does not recognise international law in the first place and so there is no chance for a Palestinian to sue Israel in court to regain the identity card.”

“The Israelis have a long list of people whose identity cards are to be revoked, but the Israelis do not implement this list in one shot. Rather, they handle the cases individually in an ongoing operation,” he told Gulf News.

After the Six Day War of 1967, the Israelis occupied and annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem and immediately conducted a census of the Arab residents of that part of the city.

In that census, only Palestinians who had remained in their houses during the war were registered in official Israeli records as residents of the city, he said, adding that all those who were not home after the war were denied the right to be recognised as residents of occupied Jerusalem. These people were regarded as absentees who lost their right to live in the occupied East Jerusalem as well as their land and property, which were put under the control of the Custodian of Absentee Property, the body that is in charge of confiscating property from Palestinians who fled their homes during wartime.

Dr Eisa warned that the number of Palestinians expected to lose their identity cards should worry the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, especially after the creation of the Israeli wall that forced thousands of Palestinians outside the municipal boundaries of occupied Jerusalem drawn by the occupation authorities.

“Official legal steps in the international arena should be taken — they may be useless, but at least we have to do something to help,” he said. “Israel does not care much for what the international community believes and says. Israeli policies should be implemented and that is what Israel cares for [at the] end of the day.”