Human rights organizations petition the High Court of Justice against the endless wait for Palestinians who need permits to enter Israel from the Gaza Strip
Residents of the Gaza Strip who wish to enter Israel, in order to travel through it to the West Bank or to the Allenby Bridge and then overseas, are required to acquire a military permit. These permits are provided sparingly and in accordance with harsh and narrow criteria
. The procedure for examining requests for permits, which is characterized by foot-dragging and endless delays, was the subject of judicial review on multiple occasions, until in 2006 the military committed – following a petition by HaMoked and other human rights organizations (HCJ 4212/06
) – to respond to requests within three weeks at most. Subsequently, a procedure
was published in 2007 determining that requests for permits should be submitted to the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) 14 working days prior to the date of planned entry to Israel, and a response would be provided 5 working days before the date of entry.
However, in October 2017 a new procedure entered into force for "processing requests for permits by Palestinian resident of Gaza
", which defines an intolerably long timeline for processing requests to enter Israel for various vital purposes. According to the procedure, the timeline for examining requests ranges between 23 working days (i.e. a month) and 70 working days (i.e. four months) from the moment they are received at the DCO. In practice, a substantial proportion of the requests are not answered until the date of the event for which the applicant is requesting an entry permit, and they are frequently not answered at all. Thus, the sick are denied medical care, students miss the start of the academic year, and relatives are denied the option of seeing their sick loved ones before they pass away.
On April 10, 2018, Gisha, Physicians for Human Rights- Israel and HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice
, requesting that the state be instructed to revise the new procedure, so that it corresponds to the regulations set on the matter and approved by the Court previously. The organizations claimed that the extension of the processing time for requests – without any justification or legal grounds – causes serious harm, unnecessary and disproportionate, to human rights and the basic needs of residents of Gaza, and particularly their right to freedom of movement. The organizations also claim that the delay in responses to requests and the bureaucratic obstacles put in place by the military stem from Israel's declared policy of restricting, as much as possible, the movement of Gazan residents – a policy which stems from extraneous political considerations.