November 1, 2017

As previously reported, over the course of the past few months Gisha has been litigating an administrative petition filed on behalf of a Gaza resident whose shipment of dental equipment (namely, amalgam capsules which are used for fillings) was seized by the Ministry of Defense and sent for forfeiture. The reason: failure to present a permit for bringing the substance into Gaza.

Over the course of the proceedings, the state admitted (Hebrew) that prior to the seizure of this equipment, it had not required a permit for this substance, and that the requirement was newly introduced in order to rectify an error. Despite this, the state insisted it had a right to confiscate the substance, as the resident had not presented a permit for it. The state refused to release the shipment to the petitioner and allow him to file an application for a permit, and insisted on the forfeiture of the equipment.

During the hearing (Hebrew) held at the Tel Aviv District Court on September 6, 2017, petitioner’s council, a lawyer from Gisha, explained the absurdity inherent in the state’s arguments, and insisted that the petitioner should not be punished for a change of Israel’s policy instituted on the very day he sought to bring the substance into Gaza. The state asked to present the court with classified information allegedly indicating the petitioner’s ties to terrorist elements in the Strip. The state argued this information was relevant to the seizure of the goods, although there was no claim of any evidence of plans to transfer the amalgam to the hands of terrorist organizations in the Strip. Petitioner’s council objected to the motion, seeing as information about the resident himself could not be used to justify the confiscation of his property as per the clear language of the Counter-terrorism Law. Gisha argued that the security allegations were raised against the petitioner in order to divert the discussion from the administrative flaws in the state’s conduct. The court, however, granted the state’s motion and agreed to review the classified information.

On September 9, 2017, the District Court published its judgment (Hebrew), rejecting the petition and ordering the petitioner to pay the state 15,000 ILS (approximately 4,300 USD) in costs. According to the judgment, the substance will be forfeited to the state and would not be allowed to enter Gaza. The judgment held, among other things, that the security allegations against the petitioner were relevant to the decision about whether or not to forfeit the amalgam, and that “the description of the distress caused to Gaza residents should amalgam be prohibited from entering it was grossly exaggerated.”

This, along with other erroneous findings, prompted Gisha to file an appeal (Hebrew) with the Supreme Court on behalf of the petitioner and the dental supply company he heads. Gisha also filed a motion for exemption from payment of guarantee (Hebrew) and a motion to stay execution of judgment (Hebrew) regarding the District Court’s ruling on costs.

On November 2, 2017, Justice Mintz ruled (Hebrew) that the judgment of the District Court would not be stayed, and that the petitioner is committed to pay the state ILS 15,000 in costs.