A couple who live in the Gaza Strip were about to celebrate their daughter’s wedding. They set a date for the wedding and invited their immediate family who live in East Jerusalem. The couple from Gaza submitted an application through HaMoked to the Israelis Office in the District Coordination Office for the Gaza Strip, asking that permits be granted to the relatives from Jerusalem. On 2 July 2007, a reply was received from the Gaza DCO stating that the relatives would not be able to travel to the Gaza Strip since they “do not meet the criteria and due to the security situation.” Following this refusal the wedding was postponed to 3 August 2007, with all the ensuing difficulties, and on 19 July 2007 a petition was submitted to the HCJ.
On 24 July 2007, in accordance with the court’s decision, a preliminary response was submitted on behalf of the respondents, who claimed that the rejection of the application was due to security reasons, among other considerations. Following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, it was alleged, the opening of Erez Crossing exposes Israeli soldiers to danger and, accordingly, “the number of times it is opened and the opening times [should be reduced] as far as possible.” The State Prosecutor’s Office added in its response that due to the special security situation, passage through Erez Crossing is limited to urgent medical situations involving the need to save lives; the employees of international organizations; foreign journalists; senior commercial figures; and partners in “divided families.”
A judicial panel headed by Justice Fogelman issued a surprise ruling on 29 July 2007 rejecting the petition in limine. The ruling was issued without any hearing in the petition and adopted all the arguments presented by the State Prosecutor’s Office regarding the expected dangers resulting from opening Erez Crossing. We must state that these arguments are imprecise. By way of example, on the very day on which the HCJ issued its ruling accepting the “security” claims, another Palestinian woman represented by HaMoked entered the Gaza Strip, also to attend a family wedding; her husband joined her two days later.
HaMoked finds it difficult to understand why the HCJ chose to make its ruling without offering the appellants a proper opportunity to respond to the respondents’ claims and to appraise the court of the veracity or otherwise of the information presented by the State Prosecutor’s Office.