October 30, 2017

On October 9, 2017, Gisha filed a petition with the High Court of Justice (Hebrew) against the minister of defense and the Gaza Civil Liaison Administration (Gaza CLA), on behalf of an engineering student from Gaza who did not receive a response to his permit application to travel out of Gaza for post-graduate studies in the UK, where he was accepted and awarded a full scholarship.

The petitioner filed the permit application on August 16, 2017, but had not received any response up to the time of the petition, despite the fact that the Gaza CLA had been informed that classes began on September 25, 2017 and that the petitioner’s place (including the generous scholarship he was awarded) would only be held for him until October 11, 2017.

The High Court heard the petition over the Sukkot holiday, ordering the respondents (Hebrew) to file their response within a few hours. In the response (Hebrew), the respondents did not deny that the petitioner filed the application on August 16, 2017, and stated that his application meets the criteria for travel abroad, and that there were no security preclusions against him. Therefore, he would receive a permit to exit the Gaza Strip, but only on October 17, 2017, seeing as no earlier shuttle was scheduled to depart for the Allenby Bridge Crossing, through which Palestinians from Gaza can travel to Jordan and abroad.

The petitioners rejected this response (Hebrew), since, as stated, if the petitioner were to wait until October 17, he would lose his place at the university, and demanded he be allowed to leave immediately, given that Erez Crossing operates normally during the Sukkot holiday. The petitioners explained that any other decision would cause the petitioner severe, irreparable damage.

During the hearing (Hebrew), the court urged the respondents to find some sort of solution for the petitioner’s predicament. The court even remarked that it was unreasonable to wait almost two months for a decision on an application with a specific date and that a solution could be reached with a measure of goodwill. In response to the respondents’ contention that they only define applications for urgent medical treatment as humanitarian, the court also stated that defining a request as “humanitarian,” therefore meriting its expedited processing, is open to interpretation. .

A few hours later, during which the petitioner was urgently called in for a security interview, he was permitted to travel abroad that same day, independently, without the shuttle. As a result, the petition was deleted (Hebrew) without a costs order.

This case proves what has been known for some time: The protracted processing times of permit applications are unreasonable, unnecessarily disrupting the lives of Gaza residents. Despite its workload, the Gaza CLA can certainly process the applications it receives more swiftly than is currently the norm.