Demand to rectify the many deficiencies involving the entry to and exit from Israel of Israeli citizens who reside in the Gaza Strip.
Recently, Israeli citizens who live in the Gaza Strip have been encountering more and more bureaucratic obstacles that impede them from realizing their most basic rights. These are sometimes the result of a complex and unnecessary bureaucracy which does not adequately serve the citizen. However, in many cases, these obstacles amount to conduct which exceeds authority and administrative decisions that defy explicit provisions in Israel's Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.
In its letter, Gisha focused on the constitutional right of Israeli citizens to enter the territory of the State of Israel, while referring to Sec. 6 of Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. This section grants every Israeli citizen a right to enter her country, a right that cannot be subjected to conditions. Despite this explicit section, through its work in assisting Israelis who live in Gaza by permit, Gisha has learned that the authorities set various unlawful conditions for entering Israel. These include: summoning Israeli citizens living in the Gaza Strip to a “security discussion” as a preliminary condition for entering Israel; demanding genetic testing to prove that the citizens are who they say they are or that their children are indeed their children; demanding they register their children in the Israeli population registry as a condition for bringing them into Israel, despite the fact that by law, the children are Israeli citizens by birth and as such, have a right to enter Israel.
Returning to the Gaza Strip
Israeli citizens wishing to return to their homes in the Gaza Strip also face patently unreasonable demands. So, for example, some were required to deposit their passports at Erez Crossing and were then left with no document attesting to their status in Israel. In some cases, Israeli citizens were issued with permits to remain in the Gaza Strip for just a few days instead of six months, despite the fact that the authorities are well aware of the fact that they live in the Gaza Strip. This practice is needlessly burdensome for both the citizens and the authorities. For some inexplicable reason, the type and color of the cell phones the citizens were carrying with them when they entered Gaza were recorded on the permit itself, but perhaps the most acute problem is the time it takes to arrange for entry into the Gaza Strip after a visit to Israel. Israeli citizens sometimes wait for more than a month to receive approval for returning to their home in Gaza, despite the fact that the authorities have all their details and that these citizens have been entering and leaving Gaza for years.
Service provision by the immigration and population authority
Gisha has also learned through practice that when Israeli citizens who live in the Gaza Strip contact the offices of the immigration and population authority with standard applications such as obtaining passports or child registration, they face unjustified refusals.
Refusal to process requests and complaints by Israeli citizens living in the Gaza Strip which are submitted by Israeli lawyers with a power of attorney signed in the Gaza Strip and sent by fax
The immigration and population authority refuses to process applications and complaints made by Israeli citizens living in the Gaza Strip which are submitted by Israeli lawyers with powers of attorney signed in the Gaza Strip and sent by fax. The immigration and population authority claims that these powers of attorney are inadmissible. As a result, Israeli citizens are deprived of their right to legal counsel and Israeli lawyers’ freedom of occupation is severely undermined. In the letter, Gisha also notes that other official agencies, including Israel’s entire judicial system and the military, do process applications submitted with a power of attorney form signed by fax. The immigration and population authority is the only authority that refuses to do so despite the fact that individuals who live in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli lawyers who represent them simply cannot meet in person.
In conclusion, Gisha wrote that it seems that the immigration and population authority imposes various restrictions on Israelis who live in the Gaza Strip by permit when the latter seek to enter Israel, when they leave the Gaza Strip and when they seek the services of the immigration and population authority like any other citizens might do. The authorities were asked to instruct administrative officials to treat Israeli citizens who reside in the Gaza Strip as they would any other Israeli citizen, so that they be able to realize their basic rights.
Gisha’s letter dated September 1, 2011 (Hebrew)