HaMoked in a petition to the HCJ: Palestinians whose property was confiscated by the military in the past must be allowed to appeal against it to the special committee established in this matter upon the court’s instruction
On June 5, 2017, a military order instituting a committee “for examining seizure of goods” and the regulations for its operations
entered into force. The committee was established at the instruction of the High Court of Justice
(HCJ), following petitions by HaMoked and other organizations challenging the legality of Amendment No. 36 to the Order Regarding Security Provisions (Judea and Samaria) 5774-2013
of December 2013, which blocked the possibility of residents of the OPT to appeal to the military courts against the confiscation of their property – a possibility which was in place for years – leaving them without any local, accessible instance to turn to in order to demand their property back. The state began acting to establish the committee once the HCJ held it was unreasonable to leave people whose property had been confiscated without an accessible avenue to challenge it, other than a petition to the HCJ itself.
The HCJ dismissed the petitions on May 10, 2017, once the state submitted to it the drafts of the order for establishing the committee “for examining seizure of goods” and the regulations governing its operation
, and ordered the state to pay ILS 10,000 in costs.
However, when the finalized order and regulations entered into effect, it became clear beyond doubt that despite the court’s stance and the express condition set by the petitioners
in the framework of the court proceedings, the committee was not authorized to consider cases of confiscation occurring before the committee began working, rather only cases where property was seized but no confiscation order was yet issued, and this within 30 days from the date of the seizure
. This means that those Palestinians whose property was confiscated in the past
, including the individual petitioners party to HaMoked’s petition, have been left without any solution on part of the military.
Therefore, on September 28, 2017, HaMoked petitioned
the HCJ once more, asserting that the new order and regulations are illegal and must be amended at once to allow appeals to the committee to be filed by people whose property was confiscated by the military from the entry into force of Amendment No. 36 on December 25, 2013, and until the date of the committee’s establishment. HaMoked stressed the absurdity of the situation where it was precisely those people concerning whom the HCJ instructed the state to establish a local confiscation-review instance – who found themselves left without any accessible recourse.
HaMoked stressed that in denying people whose property had already been seized the possibility of turning to the committee, the military commander was breaching his positive duty to protect the rights of the residents of the occupied territory, ensure their normal lives and uphold their rights – as he was thus violating their right to property and their right of access to justice. HaMoked clarified that applying to the HCJ as the only recourse to challenge a confiscation, meant, inter alia, that people were being denied the right to attend the court hearings over their case, because of the severe military-imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinians from the OPT into Israel; and that the HCJ proceedings were conducted as a rule without the hearing of witnesses or the presentation of evidence, vital for proving the legality or illegality of the confiscation decision.
The court instructed the state to submit its response by November 30, 2017.