Even after HaMoked applied under Freedom of Information Act, the military insists: the foreign travel ban imposed on tens of thousands of Palestinians in the summer of 2014 was “individually” placed
After the abduction of three Israeli youths in the summer of 2014, Israel imposed a brief sweeping exit ban on tens of thousands of Palestinians. The foreign travel ban applied to all residents of the Hebron district between the ages of 20 and 50, and also to 30,000 other residents of the West Bank that was unlimited by age. Yet, in response to HaMoked’s inquiries, the military insisted
that no sweeping travel ban had been imposed, only individual bans.
On October 7, 2014, HaMoked applied
to the military under the Freedom of Information Act, asking how many Hebron residents had been banned from going abroad and on what basis. HaMoked asked whether a signed order had been issued or an oral instruction. HaMoked also repeated its questions about the additional 30,000 West Bank residents who were also denied travel at that time.
Four months later, on February 8, 2015, the military responded
, repeating its position that while all Hebron residents between the ages of 20 and 50 had been denied foreign travel, this was not a sweeping ban but a ban limited to a certain age group and place of residence, and a circumscribed period. Despite HaMoked's request, the military did not present the order pursuant to which the ban was imposed, and to the best of HaMoked's knowledge, such an order had never been issued. As to the security ban imposed on tens of thousands of West Bank residents, the military insisted that no written order or oral instruction had been given, rather that these were numerous individual bans. The military refused to provide any further information in the matter, saying that divulging this information would jeopardize national security – no less.
On April 29, 2015, HaMoked sent a letter
to the military, protesting the manner in which thousands of the residents of Hebron had been banned by the military from foreign travel, without any written order or directive to that effect. HaMoked reasserted that denying a person's right to foreign travel based only on his age and place of residence, was injurious, unacceptable, and contrary to international law and Israeli law alike. HaMoked demanded that the military conduct a thorough examination to determine how such an unauthorised and far reaching measure had come about.
HaMoked asserts that there is a clear distinction between individual and a sweeping exit ban. An individual ban is tied to specific information attributed to the precluded person. This was not the case during last summer, not in the case of the Hebron residents or in the case of the other banned West bank residents, numbering tens of thousands. The military’s attempt to quibble about the definition of the term “sweeping ban”, and its avoidance from disclosing details about the decision process that led to the ban's imposition are inappropriate.