In early June 2021, HaMoked started receiving requests for assistance from Jerusalemite Palestinians who discovered that the National Insurance Institute (NII) had suddenly revoked their families’ entitlement to health insurance and other social security rights (i.e., revoking their residency status for the purpose of national insurance). Everyone in these families, including the minor children, are permanent residents in Israel, whose center of life has always been in East Jerusalem, where they live, work and study. The families learned about the revocations by accident, without ever receiving an official notice from the NII or a pre-revocation hearing as required. In the absence of any legitimate explanation, it seemed that the NII had taken upon itself to exact collective punishment against the city’s indigenous population, following the protests and rioting that took place across Israel and in East Jerusalem the previous month.
By September 2021, the NII had retracted its decision in seven cases handled by HaMoked, three of them following written objections to the NII and four following urgent appeals to the Labor Court.
On November 18, 2021, HaMoked filed another appeal on behalf of a woman and her minor children, whose rights had been revoked, most likely for punitive reasons, following her husband’s arrest in May 2021. This, after the NII kept delaying in implementing its August 2021 decision to restore the rights of the woman and her children following her objection. Despite HaMoked’s repeated reminders, as in the previous cases, it was only following the appeal that the NII carried out its decision and reinstated the family’s rights. On the following day, in the judgment of February 1, 2022, Judge Rachel Barag-Hirshberg ordered the appeal’s deletion, ruling that “the residency of [the appellant] and her children was returned to them only on the heels of her appeal to the Court… It could very well be that it was the appeal, including the request for a temporary remedy that brought about a resolution of the appellant’s matter. It should also be noted that it took quite a few months until the matter was properly resolved”.
The Court criticized the NII for “choosing not to clarify why the appellant’s residency was revoked to begin with; and why, as aforesaid, was it not restored after her objection had been accepted months before she turned to the Court; [and] is there a connection between this proceeding and other proceedings cited by the appellant, in all of which purportedly [the NII] acted similarly – revoking residency not for reasons relating to center of life and restoring it immediately following an appeal to the Court”. The Court added that such conduct “not only burdens the insurers and particularly the appellant but also wastes precious court time and public resources”. These circumstances, the Court ruled, warrant deviating from the rule concerning the rate of court costs to be paid to the appellant, and ordered the NII to pay the appellant a total of NIS 6,000.