HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual petitioned to allow a Palestinian resident of Qalqiliya to return to his West Bank home, after he was deported to the Gaza Strip in curious circumstances: the case demonstrates that deportation to Gaza has become the default practice of the Israeli military
The Palestinian, an inhabitant of Qalqiliya from birth, was detained in 2007 for “illegal presence" in Israel. On January 14, 2008, after serving a prison term of eleven months, he was inexplicably expelled to the Gaza Strip. While in prison, his wife was stabbed to death trying to break up a violent struggle between two adversaries. Before his release, he told police the officers repeatedly that he had been born in the West Bank, and was living there, as was his family, and that he had no ties in Gaza Strip. He was answered: "so from today, you are in Gaza".
Immediately upon arriving to Gaza, he was arrested and interrogated for a fortnight by Hamas authorities, presumably on suspicion of collaboration with Israel. This is not the first case known to HaMoked where a Palestinian who has no ties to Gaza, is deported there by Israel, and is consequently suspected by Hamas of collaboration.
Following his deportation, he was unemployed and lived at his sister's family home. Through the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee (PCAC), he repeatedly tried to file with the Israeli authorities requests to return home, but the PCAC informed him that the Israeli side refused to accept his requests. In November 2009, HaMoked appealed to the Israeli District Coordination Office of Gaza (Gaza DCO), in a request to allow him to return to his home in Qalqiliya. Several months passed with no concrete answer, and he was later re-arrested by Hamas. Learning of his arrest, HaMoked urgently appealed to the Gaza DCO in a demand to expedite the processing of the request.
In February 2010, some three months after HaMoked's appeal, the military's reply arrived, stating their decision to summon the petitioner for a "security conversation". The fact that a person, who was unlawfully deported to a location selected without grounds, is required to submit to a security examination in order to return home, is nothing but absurd. The petitioner accepted the summons for interrogation, after which he was once again taken to interrogation by Hamas members. Fearing harassment by Hamas, the petitioner moved out of his sister's home to "reside" in a tent, far from her. In view of the circumstances, a year after his deportation to Gaza, and over three months after its appeal to the military, HaMoked submitted an urgent petition
to the High Court of Justice.
Only after the petition was filed, and ahead of a court hearing, at the beginning of March the military decided to allow the petitioner to return to his home in the West Bank. When he arrived at his aunt's home, on his way from Gaza to his home in Qalqiliya, security forces of the Palestinian Authority came and took him for interrogation…
The increased frequency of expulsions to the Gaza Strip heightens the concern that this has become the default mode of operation for the military. The decision to remove the petitioner to Gaza, in this instance, as in other cases HaMoked handles, is an extreme and unreasonable decision that lacks any legal foundation.