Gisha files Freedom of Information petition to compel COGAT to respond to a Freedom of Information application regarding operating procedures governing the work of the Gaza DCO in conjunction with the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee, AP 13374-07-15, Gisha v. COGAT et al.
On July 7, 2015, Gisha petitioned (Hebrew) the Tel Aviv District Court, sitting as the Court for Administrative Affairs, to instruct the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to respond to a Freedom of Information application Gisha made more than seven months ago. The application referred to the operating procedures governing the work of the Gaza Strip District Coordination Office (DCO) in conjunction with the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee, with respect to applications made by Gaza residents for permits to exit the Strip.
The application was made on December 9, 2014, and despite the clear obligation set forth in the Freedom of Information Act to respond to applications made pursuant to the Act within 30 days, and no later than 120 days (after sending detailed explanations for the extensions), COGAT has never responded to the application. Before filing the petition, Gisha lodged a complaint (Hebrew) with the governmental Freedom of Information unit, which deemed the complaint justified (Hebrew).
The petition was filed as a result of the clear violation of the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and the importance of the information for a large contingent of residents, who come into daily contact with the DCO and the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee. Gisha also asked (Hebrew) the court to schedule a hearing as soon as possible. In a decision dated July 13, 2015, Honorable Justice Y. Shitzer instructed the respondents to submit their response by July 10, 2015 and scheduled the hearing for October 21, 2015.
This is not the first time Gisha has had to petition the court to compel COGAT to provide information that should be available to the public in the first place. This petition follows two other major Freedom of Information petitions filed by Gisha in 2014. The previous petitions focused on the publication of the operating procedures followed by COGAT and the Civil Administration, which works in the West Bank. Following publication of these petitions, both agencies began posting procedures on the COGAT’s website in Hebrew and Arabic.
Gisha will continue its efforts to increase transparency among public authorities and to have all procedures and protocols relating to Palestinian residents, particularly those living in Gaza, exposed and published.