«Jewish Observer»
September 2002
5763 Tishrei

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- I'm like a bone in the throat of many people in this country, - says colonel-in-reserve Gertsl Gedge in his first interview as the chief of the Population Registration Department (PRD) under the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). - Only a special state investigation board can disclose the scale of administrative catastrophe that I discovered two years ago when I came to the Ministry.

A 46-year-old Gertsl Gedge, a former artillery officer, coordinator for contacts with Palestinian police and a member of the group for peaceful negotiations with Jordan, came to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in January, 2000, when the minister was Natan Shcharansky. The Population Registration Department is considered to be the sentry post of the country. It is here that they decide who can enter the country and who cannot. According to Gedge, the gates to Israel had been wide open and almost not guarded for a long time.

- It was chaos. Only this week I have discovered 150 thousand people from the CIS countries having no right for repatriation but who received the permit and later on were granted the status of permanent residents.

-Almost every repatriate from Russia, irrespective of religion and sex, is trying to prove that he is a good man and that we are mocking at him. There are thousands of such people who have nothing to do with the State of Israel. They have used the transparency of our border for their own purposes and legally and illegally received what they wanted. Sometimes, five or six deputies from different parties concurrently send their inquires about the same case. They want me to arrange citizenship, residence permit or passport, or identification card for a certain person. So, I decided to make things straight even if I am declared a villain.

PRD is not my private enterprise. It happened sometimes that the parents of the victims of terrorist acts were refused the citizenship status. I could have done what they wanted and nobody would have blamed me for this. However, I decided to stick to the regulations and to refuse these people the citizenship. I collected facts and brought this problem to the "top" for them to decide and formulate the policy. The decision has not been made yet.

There are 200-300 thousand illegal gastarbeiters in Israel who came as workers or tourists. Nobody registered them and soon they were granted the status of permanent residents. Nobody knows how many Palestinians penetrated through the borders of the "green zone", nobody thought of the demographic consequences and what that means for the country's security. I am speaking about the people who live here and make new families under the slogan of "reunification of families". This is a mass immigration of Palestinians to Israel with the permission of Israeli authorities and without any control from their side.

- How many "strangers", by your estimates, came to Israel over the last ten years?

- As part of the family reunification program, the Ministry of Internal Affairs granted citizenship to 100 thousand Palestinians. Over 150 thousand Palestinians reside in Israel illegally, 1/3 of them came to Israel as tourists through the Jordan border and didn't leave the country. In addition, there are 200-3000 thousand foreign workers who also give a natural population growth. In the last ten years Israel opened its gates for over one million of non-Jews. It is nonsense: they not only live illegally in Israel but also apply to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for help. In the USA an illegal immigrant is immediately deported. There, a person who violates immigration regulations will never be granted any official status. We are now trying to adopt such a law in Israel. Recently we have revealed several cases of giving bribes for receiving the citizenship by people from the CIS countries that are suspected to be involved in the organized crime. Top Israeli officials are suspected to be involved in corruption. Ex-minister Salakh Tarif and Rafi Koen, the former chief of the PRD, are charged with receiving bribes for "granting" citizenship to a Palestinian millionaire whom the security service recommended to refuse.


Having read this article the leader of the party "Our Home is Israel" Avigdor Lieberman sent a letter to Eli Ishai, Minister of Internal Affairs, in which he wrote: "I was surprised to read quotations of the chief of the PRD in the newspaper "Yediot Ahronot".

"Million of non-Jews came to Israel in the last years" are the words said by Gedge. These words insult those people who did their best to repatriate to Israel and today make a considerable contribution into the life of Israeli society; they fight on the front for the country and even give their lives for it. It is only one more attempt to tarnish the idea of alia. Because of his rudeness and aggressiveness he can't occupy any more the present position in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. I demand his immediate dismissal".


The former leader of "Nativa" Yakov Kedmy said the following about the article in "Yediot Ahronot": "I can't understand what merits he was appointed to this post for. He was the commander of an artillery unit, then he was responsible for the security of the Sacred Cave of Forefathers in Khevron, i.e. he used to perform military and police duties.

In his interview Gedge said, - "Almost every repatriate from Russia, irrespective of religion and sex, is trying to prove that he is a good man and that we (officials of the Ministry) are mocking at him".

Once I told Natan Shcharansky that vicious mockery of the MJA officials exceeds the mockery of the Soviet OVIR (Visa Registration Department). Now, the official appointed by Shcharansky is doing the same. He has no right to work with human beings.

From the very start of his work in the MIA the colonel-in-reserve Gertsl Gedge used to practice mockery methods towards the relatives of our solders (alive, wounded and even those who perished). Mr.Gedge says that he has discovered 150 thousand illegal emigrants from the USSR. This is not two or tree persons and their citizenship can't be explained as being bribed, though occasional cases did happen.

I remember the meeting of the Alia and Absorption Parliamentary Commission hearing the demands to introduce the same immigration laws that exist in the USA. I said then, "Only if I die. We are the country of repatriates, not emigrants. That is why there shouldn't be the same attitude to Jews-repatriates as it is to immigrants in America. Those who think that such a law can be adopted do not understand the main motive of our state".

Neither did Mr.Gedge forget the "Russian mafia". I used to say it several times that "Russian mafia" doesn't exist in Israel even by its definition.


In response to a number of publications about non-Jews - repatriates, the head of the Jewish agency Salai Meridor said, "Repatriates who consider themselves Christians are the exclusive minority in the overall alia stream. The Jewish agency is doing its best in helping repatriates promote their Jewish self-consciousness and contacts with Israel, and it welcomes thousands of students studying at the Institute of Judaism under the Jewish agency". Salai Meridor considers that the national priority today is to give a chance to repatriates to pass giyur (if they want to) and become full members of the Jewish society. At present, the giyur passing process is a real torture and needs immediate interference. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Chief Rabbinate should assist in changing the situation for the better and not try to change the Law on Return because this contradicts to national interests.

"Chronicles of Jerusalem"

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