HCJ orders state to explain its refusal to allow a Palestinian dentist to travel abroad: The petition was withdrawn but the court issued a judgment criticizing the military commander’s decision making process המוקד להגנת הפרט
02.02.2016
HCJ orders state to explain its refusal to allow a Palestinian dentist to travel abroad: The petition was withdrawn but the court issued a judgment criticizing the military commander’s decision making process
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On January 26, 2016, HaMoked petitioned the HCJ in the matter of a Palestinian resident of a-Samu’ in the Hebron District, who had been barred by the military from traveling abroad to pursue academic studies. The man, a dentist by trade, was planning to travel to London for five days, to attend an intensive course which is a prerequisite for a special remote learning dental care programme in the prestigious King’s College.

In the petition, HaMoked stressed that the military has been denying the man exit abroad for eight years, citing that he was “ISA precluded”, and that the refusal to allow him to travel abroad for five days only was disproportionate, unreasonable and a violation of his rights to freedom of occupation and a dignified livelihood.

On January 28, 2016, after hearing parties’ arguments and reviewing classified material, the court issued an order nisi demanding the state explain its position. In the statement of response, submitted on January 31, 2016, the state argued that security officials have information that “clearly indicates there is concern that the Petitioner’s travel abroad would be used to promote Hamas activity that would put the security of the Area at risk”.

In the hearing, held on February 1, 2016, the state asked to present the court with classified material which was not mentioned in the previous hearing. It also came to light that the classified material provided by the ISA was not presented to the military commander prior to the decision to deny the petitioner travel abroad. HaMoked argued that this was an administrative flaw that created the impression that the military commander rubber stamps decisions made by the ISA, without being exposed to the intelligence information himself. After reviewing the classified material, the justices clarified they had no intention of interfering with the military commander’s decision. HaMoked withdrew the petition.

At the same time, the justices did decide to make some principled comments in writing, and these were validated as a judgment. In the judgment issued on February 2, 2016, the justices referred to the “interface between the Respondent and the ISA” and criticized the fact that the military commander makes decisions based on brief summaries provided to him by the ISA without looking at the material himself. The court ruled that “the authority must be provided with the groundwork required for making a decision, allowing it to refer to the intelligence information directly, and the brief summary cannot suffice on its own”. The justices further noted that the military must hold a review on this matter, stating that “we presume that this will take place and that the results of this review will be presented to the director of the HCJ department and the state attorney”.
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