Gisha files petition to compel COGAT and MAG Corps to introduce interim arrangements for responding to applications by Palestinian residents (HCJ 1793/15 Gisha v. Minister of Defense et. al)
On March 11, 2015, Gisha petitioned (Hebrew) the Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice, asking the respondents (the Minister of Defense, the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Military Advocate General and their subordinates) to introduce and publish interim arrangements that would be in effect pending completion of staff work to re-examine the response protocol (Protocol for Response to Requests for Entry of Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into Israel – Advance Notice regarding Application Approval/Denial (Hebrew)). Alternatively, Gisha asked that the existing protocol be followed pending the formulation of interim arrangements or a new protocol. The respondents were also asked to establish a timeframe for the completion of the work and the publication of an updated protocol.
The response protocol was formulated following a 2006 High Court case (HCJ 4212/06 Avocats sans Frontières v. GOC Southern Command, issued June 28, 2006), and it stipulates timeframes for applications made by Palestinians to enter Israel on a specific date, including for the purpose of travel between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. According to the protocol, applications must be submitted up to 14 business days prior to the requested travel date, and responses must be issued no later than five business days prior to that date, in order to allow legal action. Without this procedure, it is impossible to ensure proper processing of substantive applications submitted under other protocols, such as exiting for work or study purposes or for participating in family events.
In November 2014, Gisha discovered, by chance, that the respondents had canceled the protocol a few months earlier, at least with respect to some units, including the Gaza District Coordination Office, and that work was underway to formulate a new protocol.
The respondents never issued any notice that the protocol had been cancelled. Additionally, despite the importance of the protocol and despite the fact that work on a new protocol has been underway for more than a year now without a clear deadline for completion, the respondents have not instituted interim arrangements and do not consider themselves bound by the existing protocol until the new one is introduced.
Without the protocol, applications made by Palestinian residents remain unanswered, sometimes past the requested travel date, and even in cases in which the lack of response results in substantial violations of the rights to family life, freedom of occupation and education. The basic right to access justice is also denied in the absence of timely responses, as there is not enough time to take legal action prior to the requested travel date.
On March 11, 2015, the Court (Hon. Jus. Danziger) instructed the respondents to respond by April 26, 2015.