Following a request from HaMoked, the legal advisor to the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) announced the withdrawal of new Ministry of the Interior policy requiring Israeli citizens and residents of East Jerusalem to present a passport or laissez passer when entering the Gaza Strip via Erez Crossing המוקד להגנת הפרט
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05.09.2007
Following a request from HaMoked, the legal advisor to the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) announced the withdrawal of new Ministry of the Interior policy requiring Israeli citizens and residents of East Jerusalem to present a passport or laissez passer when entering the Gaza Strip via Erez Crossing
Following a request from HaMoked, the legal advisor to the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) announced the withdrawal of new Ministry of the Interior policy requiring Israeli citizens and residents of East Jerusalem to present a passport or laissez passer when entering the Gaza Strip via Erez Crossing

For many years, the accepted practice was that the entry of Israelis into the Gaza Strip was conditional on receipt of an entry permit from the Gaza DCO, and the presentation of an identity card at Erez Crossing. HaMoked received reports that Israelis arriving at Erez Crossing were now being required to present an Israeli passport or laissez passer. In response to an inquiry, the Ministry of the Interior informed HaMoked on 1 February 2007 that there had been no change in the existing policy, adding that the authorities were merely “underscoring the need for Israeli citizens arriving at Erez Crossing to present an Israeli passport.” However, HaMoked learned that citizens and residents were not only required to present a travel document on entering the Gaza Strip, but were also obliged to deposit the document at the crossing. Such a requirement is unlawful and constitutes a grave violation of the rights of Israeli citizens and residents of East Jerusalem to freedom of movement. On 19 February 2007, HaMoked contacted the Ministry of the Interior and demanded that it abandon this unlawful policy. 

HaMoked also learned that Israelis married to residents of the Gaza Strip who stay in the area on the basis of renewable monthly permits (in accordance with the “divided families” procedure) were also being asked to present a passport or laissez passer as a condition for renewing their permits to stay in the area. This demand – which requires those involved to cross back into Israel and wait for the documents to be issued, sometimes for over a month – lacks any legal basis and grossly ignores the responsibilities of Israeli citizens and residents toward their families, children, and places of employment. The change in policy was made without proper publication; without prior notice being given to the public of the change in procedures; and without any transitional period. 

Moreover, Ministry of the Interior officials in East Jerusalem recently began to confiscate the Israeli identity cards of women from divided families who came to the ministry to receive laissez passer documents. The law does not permit officials to confiscate identity cards in such cases. On 19 February 2007, HaMoked contacted the ministry and demanded that it desist from this practice and return the confiscated identity cards to their holders. 

Despite the repeated claims by the Ministry of the Interior that there has been no change in the procedures or guidelines, and following contacts between HaMoked and various authorities, the legal adviser to the Gaza DCO announced on 8 March 2007 that “in accordance with the Ministry of the Interior guideline dated 1 January 2007, any Israeli resident or citizen wishing to enter the Gaza Strip was required to deposit an Israeli passport / laissez passer.” The notification from the legal advisor to the Gaza DCO also revealed that the Ministry of the Interior guideline (which the ministry itself claimed it had never issued) was abolished on 18 February 2007. The guideline regarding the confiscation of identity cards at the Ministry of the Interior office in East Jerusalem was also abolished. Once again, the Ministry of the Interior made no effort to inform the public of the abolition of the guideline and the changes in the requirements for the presentation of documents on entering the Gaza Strip. 

The inconsistent behavior of the Ministry of the Interior forced numerous citizens and residents to leave their families and children in the Gaza Strip in order to obtain an Israeli laissez passer or passport. This process took many weeks and entailed unnecessary expenses. 

The gravest problem created by the behavior of the Ministry of the Interior in this matter, however, is that its actions were interpreted as a precursor to the sweeping denial of residency rights in Israel from Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who divide their lives between Israel and the Gaza Strip. 

Read the letter from the Ministry of the Interior dated 1 February 2007 (Hebrew) 

Read the notification of the legal advisor to the Gaza DCO dated 8 March 2007 (Hebrew) 

Read HaMoked’s letter to the Ministry of the Interior dated 13 March 2007 (Hebrew)

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For many years, the accepted practice was that the entry of Israelis into the Gaza Strip was conditional on receipt of an entry permit from the Gaza DCO, and the presentation of an identity card at Erez Crossing. HaMoked received reports that Israelis arriving at Erez Crossing were now being required to present an Israeli passport or laissez passer. In response to an inquiry, the Ministry of the Interior informed HaMoked on 1 February 2007 that there had been no change in the existing policy, adding that the authorities were merely “underscoring the need for Israeli citizens arriving at Erez Crossing to present an Israeli passport.” However, HaMoked learned that citizens and residents were not only required to present a travel document on entering the Gaza Strip, but were also obliged to deposit the document at the crossing. Such a requirement is unlawful and constitutes a grave violation of the rights of Israeli citizens and residents of East Jerusalem to freedom of movement. On 19 February 2007, HaMoked contacted the Ministry of the Interior and demanded that it abandon this unlawful policy. 

HaMoked also learned that Israelis married to residents of the Gaza Strip who stay in the area on the basis of renewable monthly permits (in accordance with the “divided families” procedure) were also being asked to present a passport or laissez passer as a condition for renewing their permits to stay in the area. This demand – which requires those involved to cross back into Israel and wait for the documents to be issued, sometimes for over a month – lacks any legal basis and grossly ignores the responsibilities of Israeli citizens and residents toward their families, children, and places of employment. The change in policy was made without proper publication; without prior notice being given to the public of the change in procedures; and without any transitional period. 

Moreover, Ministry of the Interior officials in East Jerusalem recently began to confiscate the Israeli identity cards of women from divided families who came to the ministry to receive laissez passer documents. The law does not permit officials to confiscate identity cards in such cases. On 19 February 2007, HaMoked contacted the ministry and demanded that it desist from this practice and return the confiscated identity cards to their holders. 

Despite the repeated claims by the Ministry of the Interior that there has been no change in the procedures or guidelines, and following contacts between HaMoked and various authorities, the legal adviser to the Gaza DCO announced on 8 March 2007 that “in accordance with the Ministry of the Interior guideline dated 1 January 2007, any Israeli resident or citizen wishing to enter the Gaza Strip was required to deposit an Israeli passport / laissez passer.” The notification from the legal advisor to the Gaza DCO also revealed that the Ministry of the Interior guideline (which the ministry itself claimed it had never issued) was abolished on 18 February 2007. The guideline regarding the confiscation of identity cards at the Ministry of the Interior office in East Jerusalem was also abolished. Once again, the Ministry of the Interior made no effort to inform the public of the abolition of the guideline and the changes in the requirements for the presentation of documents on entering the Gaza Strip. 

The inconsistent behavior of the Ministry of the Interior forced numerous citizens and residents to leave their families and children in the Gaza Strip in order to obtain an Israeli laissez passer or passport. This process took many weeks and entailed unnecessary expenses. 

The gravest problem created by the behavior of the Ministry of the Interior in this matter, however, is that its actions were interpreted as a precursor to the sweeping denial of residency rights in Israel from Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who divide their lives between Israel and the Gaza Strip. 

Read the letter from the Ministry of the Interior dated 1 February 2007 (Hebrew) 

Read the notification of the legal advisor to the Gaza DCO dated 8 March 2007 (Hebrew) 

Read HaMoked’s letter to the Ministry of the Interior dated 13 March 2007 (Hebrew)

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