For the second time in two weeks: Israel demands a large money deposit as a condition for allowing a Palestinian man to travel outside the OPT המוקד להגנת הפרט
For the second time in two weeks: Israel demands a large money deposit as a condition for allowing a Palestinian man to travel outside the OPT
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Each and every year, Israel prevents thousands of Palestinians from traveling from the West bank abroad on claims of “security travel preclusions”. In many cases, the travel ban is unreservedly lifted following correspondence with Israeli authorities or the filing of a petition to the High Court of Justice (HCJ). In some cases, the military insists on the ban even after a court petition has been filed, and sets conditions for the petitioner’s foreign travel, such as a pledge not to damage the security of Israel while abroad or to stay away from the OPT for a long period – sometimes for up to five years. In other cases, the military permits departure abroad for a brief time only – for just several hours or several days. However, recently, the military has been adding to these restrictions the demand for a high money guarantee to be deposited by the Palestinians it has blacklisted as a condition for allowing them to fulfill their right to leave their country and travel abroad.

On August 17, 2015, HaMoked petitioned the HCJ to instruct the military to permit a Hebron resident to leave for Jordan and on to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, in order to perform the Haj rites.

On September 2, 2015, HaMoked received a letter from the State Attorney’s Office concerning the man, which stated that “the petitioner is a Hamas activist involved in Hamas activity, whose departure will threaten the security of the Area”. The letter went on to announce that security officials were willing to allow the man to depart abroad, provided that he not only sign a pledge to “refrain from involvement in terrorism or terrorist funds”, but also deposit a ILS 15,000 guarantee “that will be seized in the event that within two months from the petitioner’s return to the Area from abroad, information comes up indicating that he has broken his said pledge”. HaMoked protested this strongly, and during the court hearing, also stressed that this was the first time it had come across this unprecedented demand to deposit money as a guarantee for an intangible undertaking not to break the law. The justices, on their part, clarified they found no flaw in the state’s proposal, and ordered to delete the petition.

Some two weeks earlier, on August 18, 2015, a money guarantee in the sum of ILS 10,000 was imposed on a Palestinian physician, also from Hebron, who wanted to accompany his ill brother for his heart transplant in France.

The proximity of the two cases raises grave concerns that this is a new state practice, intended to aggravate the infringement of OPT residents' right to foreign travel. Palestinians who will not be able raise the required guarantee deposit, might have to forgo their trip abroad, along with the basic human rights sought thereby, such as the rights to health, family life, livelihood, and freedom of religion and worship.
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