Following Gisha’s petition, a released prisoner was not removed to the Gaza Strip
On October 14, 2014, Gisha filed an urgent petition on behalf of a Palestinian resident serving a prison sentence at Ella Prison, located inside Israel, who was set to be released to the Gaza Strip despite the fact that he had been living in the West Bank for years. The hearing was scheduled for October 20, 2014, but on that day, the state announced that the petitioner would be released to the West Bank.
The petitioner, a Palestinian resident whose registered address is in the Gaza Strip, moved to the West Bank in 2000 and has been living there exclusively since 2007. He is married to a resident of the West Bank, and the couple had a child in 2012. The petitioner was sentenced to prison in 2012 and on October 7, 2014, the parole board decided on an early release. The board’s decision rested on the petitioner’s good behavior throughout his incarceration, the remorse he showed for his actions and the rehabilitation program he agreed to participate in in the West Bank. On October 13, 2014, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Gisha found out that the state was not going to appeal the parole board’s decision and that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) was planning to remove the prisoner to the Gaza Strip. Gisha contacted the State Attorney’s Office in an attempt have the release location changed without resorting to legal action, but when the attempt failed, we filed an urgent petition which included a motion for an interim injunction and a motion for an urgent hearing.
The petition emphasized that the petitioner’s removal to the West Bank contravened an express decision made by a judicial instance – the parole board, which had determined that the petitioner would participate in a rehabilitation program in the West Bank. The petition also stressed that the petitioner’s removal to Gaza contravened the IPS’ own protocols, the authorities’ treatment of the petitioner over the years (he was released to the West Bank following previous prison terms), and IPS practice in similar cases. Additionally, the petition stated that the removal defied the public interest in prisoner rehabilitation and contradicted the fact that he had been living in the West Bank in recent years and that his removal to Gaza would constitute a severe violation of his right to family life and undermine his rehabilitation. Given these considerations, the state’s reliance on the population registry to determine where the prisoner would be released was arbitrary and unreasonable.
On October 20, 2014, the day on which the hearing was scheduled to take place, Gisha received the State Attorney’s notification that the state had withdrawn its objection to the petitioner’s release to the West Bank. In view thereof, the parties agreed to have the petition withdrawn and the petitioner was released to his home in the West Bank.