Following an urgent petition: HaMoked succeeds in preventing the forcible transfer to Gaza of a West Bank Palestinian man המוקד להגנת הפרט
Following an urgent petition: HaMoked succeeds in preventing the forcible transfer to Gaza of a West Bank Palestinian man
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At around noon on April 10, 2019, HaMoked was contacted by a father asking for help to prevent his son's forcible transfer to Gaza, to be carried out later that day. The young man had completed a brief prison sentence of a few weeks, after having been caught inside Israel without the necessary permit. Just a day before he was to be released, Israel Prison Service (IPS) officials told him they intended to release him to Gaza, as this was listed as his address in the Israeli copy of the Palestinian population registry. This, despite the fact that the 25 year-old man had not been to Gaza since he was a child; while born in Gaza, he moved to the West Bank when he was two-years old and had lived there ever since, and his family, livelihood and entire life was in the West Bank.

HaMoked hastened to contact the military and the IPS to demand that the man be released to the place where he actually lived and not based on Israel’s deliberately out-of-date records. The IPS responded that the man was going to be released to Gaza and refused to delay his expulsion until the matter was clarified. The military for its part did not deliver any pertinent response. Therefore, HaMoked filed an urgent petition to the High Court of Justice (HCJ). In the petition, HaMoked emphasized that the forcible transfer would constitute an extreme breach of the man’s rights, including his right to freedom of movement in his country, his rights to liberty and dignity and his right to family life; and that this act contradicted the prohibition on removing a person from his home and area of residence. It is important to note that given Israel's extreme restrictions on exit from the Gaza Strip, release to the Gaza Strip would constitute near-permanent expulsion from his home. HaMoked added: “Beyond the legal arguments, it is obvious that the main aspect of this petition is the simple human aspect. The idea that one fine day a man is taken from his home, his family and the place where he has been living for years and expelled from it … is an intolerable idea”.

The HCJ immediately issued on HaMoked’s request an injunction order prohibiting the man’s forcible transfer to Gaza. The military’s response arrived shortly after, stating that “it was decided a short time ago at COGAT (Unit of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) that the petitioner could be released to the area of Judea and Samaria…”.

At around 20:00, the man was released to his home, where his family anxiously awaited him. The petition was deleted.

The context for this case is Israel’s obtuse and arbitrary policy, whereby Palestinians whose address in the population registry is listed as Gaza who actually live in the West Bank, are regarded as “illegal aliens” unlawfully present in their homes. This, even if they have been living in the West Bank for many years – and moved there with Israel’s knowledge and consent and long before it launched its baseless demand that they obtain a special military permit for “residence in the West Bank”. In 2012, Israel undertook before the HCJ to no longer remove to Gaza people who had relocated to the West Bank before September 2005, provided there was no security preclusion against them. However, Israel continues to refuse to update these people’s address in its copy of the Palestinian population registry, and continues to regard them as “illegal aliens” in the West Bank.
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