Petition on behalf of Ms. Safadi and her children who are requesting to return to their home in the Gaza Strip, HCJ 6999/11
Mrs. Safadi lives in the Gaza Strip, though her registered address is in the West Bank. She and her husband have five young children. In April 2010, after not having seen her family in the West Bank for many years, she submitted an application to visit them, which was approved. In July 2010, when the visit was over, Mrs. Safadi submitted an application to return home with her children. When she did not receive a response, Gisha contacted the military authorities on her behalf, requesting that their return be arranged. The request was refused in a response dated June 2, 2011, which stated that passage could not be approved as there were no exceptional humanitarian grounds for doing so. Following the refusal, Gisha notified the State Attorney’s Office of its intent to file a petition to the High Court of Justice (HCJ). On September 27, 2011, Gisha filed the petition.
In the petition Gisha argued that Mrs. Safadi’s passage through the Erez Crossing was marked by serious errors on the part of the army. So, for example, as a condition for crossing, she was told to sign a document written in Hebrew (a language Mrs. Safadi does not understand) entitled “Statement of Undertaking”. The document states that under the current policy pertaining to passage, only passage on humanitarian grounds is permitted and family relations do not constitute such humanitarian grounds. However, army officials told Mrs. Safadi that what the document meant was that when she wanted to return to the Gaza Strip, she would have to file another application at her local District Coordination Office in the West Bank.
Contrary to Mrs. Safadi’s claim, the military authorities contended that she was presented with an Arabic version of the “Statement of Undertaking”. Yet, even if an Arabic version was indeed presented, the authorities nevertheless failed to satisfy their obligations considering the significant differences between the two versions. The Arabic version contains no mention of the policy on passage. Moreover, even if Mrs. Safadi had signed the “Statement of Undertaking” lawfully, these could not prevent her from returning to her home. Gisha further argued that the refusal to allow Mrs. Safadi and her children to return contravened common practice and that it violated a number of the family’s rights, including the right to return to one’s home and the right to family life. Gisha argued that the decision was neither proportionate nor reasonable and that it contravened Israel’s obligations toward Palestinian residents.
On November 7, 2011, before a hearing in the petition took place, the authorities retracted their refusal to allow Mrs. Safadi and her children to return home, and the family returned to the Gaza Strip on November 16, 2011. However, as a condition for re-entering Gaza, Mrs. Safadi was required to sign a document in which she declared that the center of her life was in the Gaza Strip and that she was aware of the military commander’s policy on the issue. On December 15, 2011, the court accepted Gisha’s motion for trial costs and ordered the state to pay 4,000 shekels to the organization.
The petition, dated September 27, 2011 (Hebrew)
The Hebrew Statement of Undertaking, dated April 2, 2010 (Hebrew)
The Arabic Statement of Undertaking, dated April 25, 2010 (translated into Hebrew)
The state’s response to the petition, dated November 9, 2011, approving Mrs. Safadi’s return on condition that she signs a document declaring the center of her life is in the Gaza Strip (Hebrew)