Center for the Defence of the Individual - The HCJ condemns the state's conduct in issuing entry permits for the seam zone: only after HaMoked's petition, the military has allowed a couple to access and cultivate their plots
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חזרה לעמוד הקודם

The HCJ condemns the state's conduct in issuing entry permits for the seam zone: only after HaMoked's petition, the military has allowed a couple to access and cultivate their plots

The couple lives in a village in the Jenin district, and grows tobacco plants and olive trees. Ever since 2003, the Israeli separation wall – constructed mostly beyond the green line, in the West Bank – separates the couple's house and lands. 

With the construction of the separation wall, the military instituted a draconian "permit regime" in the "seam zone" – the Israeli designation for the West Bank areas west of the separation wall – requiring that any Palestinian who intends to enter the seam zone obtain a permit in advance. Therefore, the couple repeatedly requested – and obtained – entry permits for their farmlands. In May 2011, the couple applied once more to have their seam zone entry permits renewed. As they received no reply, HaMoked appealed to the military, stressing the urgency required in handling their requests, due to the tobacco harvest season. The military never replied to the many requests and reminders, and continued to deny the couple's entry to their farmlands.

On July 11, 2011, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ), to instruct the military to issue entry permits for agricultural purposes for the seam zone, allowing them to farm their plots. HaMoked pleaded that the military's refusal to allow the couple to enter the seam zone, caused disproportionate, unreasonable and severe harm to their rights to property, freedom of movement, and freedom of occupation. The refusal to renew their permits was in breach of the law, the court's ruling, as well as of military procedures and orders. HaMoked noted, drawing on the lessons of the past, that once a petition was filed, the military issued the requested permit, and the case was never heard in court.  

In the petition, HaMoked also requested the court to instruct the military to formulate and publicize a rapid schedule for processing Palestinians' requests for seam zone entry permits. HaMoked argued that given the fact that the military does not comply with its legal obligation and the court's ruling, requiring it to respond promptly and in writing to such applications, infringes on the basic rights of Palestinians who cannot enter their plots and do not know when and whether their applications would be answered.   

Nine days after the petition was filed, and less than 24 hrs ahead of the scheduled hearing, HaMoked received the State Attorney's Office notice on the decision to issue the couple employment-permits for agricultural purposes for the seam zone. In the HCJ ruling, which endorsed the notice, Justice Rubinstein condemned the state's conduct: "it is highly deplorable that a matter which could have been settled without a petition and a waste of secretarial and judicial time with all that's involved – is settled at the last minute before the hearing. I request to put this comment before the relevant officials, insofar as they are concerned with the issue, and I hope this is so [emphasis in original]."  

HaMoked seeks to draw attention and caution against the slippery slope inherent in the conduct of the military and the state. To gain the approval of the HCJ to the wall's construction, Israel guaranteed that the harm to the Palestinian population would be minimal; yet, following the court's approval and the wall's construction, the military did not keep its commitments and, inter alia, gradually issued fewer and fewer permits; and now, in stark contrast to the recent judgment in the "permit regime" petitions, Palestinian residents who require entry permits for the seam zone are further encumbered by Israel.  

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