With Gisha’s assistance, five family members from Gaza manage to meet their Israeli lawyer at Erez Crossing for the purpose of engaging in legal proceedings in Israel
Following up on our previous update, after Gisha filed an administrative petition against the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (AP-56769-07-15 Abu Said et al. v. COGAT), and given the comments made by the Beer Sheva District Court at the hearing held on September 16, 2015, COGAT agreed to allow six members of a Gaza family to meet with their Israeli lawyers at Erez Crossing. The meeting was necessary so that the family members could sign the power-of-attorney documents required to proceed with the civil claim they filed in Israel. With the assistance of Palestinian human rights organization Al Mezan, the meeting was held on October 26, 2015, and five of the six family members signed powers of attorney in the presence of their Israeli lawyer from the offices of Adv. Hussein Abu Hussein.
We note that two days prior to the meeting, Gisha received a letter from the Military Advocate General’s International Law Department (Hebrew), stipulating three conditions for the meeting: First, that it is kept to the minimum time required and includes only the signing of the power of attorney; second, that no more than one Israeli lawyer is present, and third, that the meeting between the lawyer and his clients is not held in private but with security guards or soldiers present, as deemed necessary.
Gisha maintained that these conditions were overly strict and extremely unreasonable, evincing the state’s unwillingness to practice the flexibility the court alluded to with respect to allowing meetings between Gaza residents and Israeli lawyers representing them. Some of the conditions were also unlawful, given the breach of the ethical rules of the legal profession regarding attorney-client privilege. The obstacles presented by the state might discourage residents from taking up legal proceedings in Israel, contrary to their fundamental right to access to justice.
Gisha will continue to help Gaza residents exercise their rights and conduct legal proceedings in Israel, even if these require access to Israel or the Erez crossing.