After months of delay and following HaMoked's HCJ petition, the military issues an entry permit allowing access to a plot of land inside the "seam zone": the court orders the military to pay costs
Ever since 2003, the Israeli military has been employing a permit regime
in West Bank areas trapped between the Green Line and the separation wall, dubbing them the "seam zone". Any Palestinian living in these areas or wishing to enter them is required to obtain a military issued permit in order to do so. Military protocols prescribe the application process, and establish clear timetables for the provision of answers. However, the processing of application is often protracted, and the Supreme Court has already condemned the military's conduct in this matter.
A Palestinian resident of the West Bank who owns a plot in the "seam zone", had received permits to enter his farmland (for validity periods shorter than stipulated) since 2009, when he inherited the property. On January 27, 2013, he applied to the military to renew his expired permit. Under military protocols, this type of application must be answered within two weeks from submission. A month later, HaMoked received a laconic letter of refusal "based on the recommendation of security officials". On the following day, the man arrived at the Israeli District Coordination Office (DCO) to apply for hearing. Under military protocols, a hearing must be held no later than 30 days from the hearing application's date of submission. After more than two months passed by without summons, HaMoked had no choice but to apply to the court.
On April 29, 2013, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice
to instruct the military to issue the man a two-year permit of entry to "the seam zone", pursuant to the military procedures. HaMoked asserted that the military must uphold its own procedures and respond to the petitioner's applications according to the obligating timetable. HaMoked detailed the military's protracted and negligent conduct prior to the petition filing and emphasized the daily damage incurred by the Palestinian barred by the military from tending to his farmland.
At first the military claimed that the man had never asked for a hearing and that he should reapply for a permit. But after HaMoked disproved this claim, the man was summoned to a hearing, held on June 20, 2013, some four months after the initial hearing request. At the end of the hearing, which lasted for about 10 minutes, the military issued the man a "seam zone" entry permit, valid for two years.
Following the petition's deletion, HaMoked requested the court to impose trial costs on the military, given its mishandling of the man's request. In March 2014, the court granted the request and ordered the military to pay ILS 3,500 in trial costs.
The stringent military procedures establishing the "permit regime" render miserable the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians, who must spend endless time waiting at the DCO in order to apply for permits, permit renewals and hearings, receive a permit or refusal, and so on – while seeking merely to live on in their homes, work their farmlands, or maintain regular family contact. This oft exposed state of affairs – where the military routinely fails to uphold even its own discriminatory procedures – is unacceptable.