Petition filed on behalf of six members of a family from Gaza who seek to enter Israel in order to meet their lawyer and take part in a civil claim against the State of Israel
On July 13, 2010, security forces fired at the home of a Gaza family. The mother died in the incident and many members of the family were injured. All members of the household suffered serious emotional, physical and financial damage. As a result, the family decided to file a civil claim against the military on their own behalves and on behalf of the mother’s estate. Ever since the claim was filed in 2012, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has refused to allow the family to enter Israel to meet with their lawyer. Such a meeting is essential in order to sign a power of attorney and provide documents that are crucial for the case.
Despite the fact that there is a procedure that allegedly allows Gaza residents to enter Israel for legal purposes, COGAT has refused to use it to issue the family permits, claiming no exceptional humanitarian grounds have been presented to justify the legal action. The demand to demonstrate humanitarian reasons for the legal action is articulated in the procedure itself and, in effect, completely negates any possibility of entering Israel under the procedure. COGAT’s response (Hebrew) to a Freedom of Information Application Gisha filed with respect to the implementation of the procedure revealed that not a single permit to enter Israel for legal purposes has been issued under the procedure since it came into effect in May 2013.
In cooperation with the family’s civil litigation lawyers, from the offices of Adv. Hussein Abu Hussein, and assistance of Palestinian human rights organization Al Mezan, Gisha contacted COGAT asking to issue the family entry permits under the procedure, or at least, allow them to meet with their lawyers at Erez Crossing. Gisha highlighted residents’ right to access to justice, a basic right all people enjoy, but to no avail. COGAT persisted. Given this, and given the fact that the civil court was threatening to dismiss the claim in the absence of the required documents, Gisha filed a petition to the District Court (Hebrew) sitting as the Court for Administrative Affairs.
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