Partial response to Gisha’s letter regarding Israeli citizens who reside in the Gaza Strip
One of the failings Gisha asked to rectify was the demand to provide original powers of attorney signed by Israeli citizens living in the Gaza Strip, as the demand was completely impracticable. Gisha also noted that there is no legal basis for such a demand and that it is not within the purview of the immigration and population authority. Another demand Gisha made was that Israeli citizens who return to the Gaza Strip no longer be required to deposit their passports at Erez Crossing.
After many months in which Gisha received no response, and many reminder letters were sent, Gisha contacted Adv. Inbal Rubinstein, Chair of Constitutional and Human Rights Law at the Israeli Bar Association, requesting that she intervene in an attempt to resolve the issue of powers of attorney forms. Adv. Rubinstein’s assistance was requested as the demand of the immigration and population authority not only severely infringes on the right of Israeli citizens to appropriate legal counsel, but also on the right of Israeli lawyers to freedom of occupation. Adv. Rubinstein contacted Interior Minister Eli Yishai on February 1, 2012 and clarified that the restriction placed by the immigration and population authority contravenes both statutory and common law.
The response of the immigration and population authority, which was received by Gisha on April 3, 2012, indicated that in view of Adv. Inbal Rubinstein’s position, the immigration and population authority would now accept powers of attorney transmitted by fax from Israeli citizens in the Gaza Strip.
As for the issue of Israeli citizens’ depositing their passports upon entering the Gaza Strip, the immigration and population authority claimed that an inquiry with the relevant officials had indicated that the passports are deposited voluntarily and that the authority has issued no directive to do so. This despite the fact that Gisha’s experience shows that this claim is, to understate, inaccurate.
It is important to note that most of the issues raised in the original letter of September 1, 2011 remained unanswered, despite the fact that it had been eight months since the letter was sent.
Following the response of the legal office of the immigration and population authority, on April 23, 2012, Gisha contacted Colonel Khatib Mansour, Commander of the Gaza DCO and Warrant Officer Amer Nassrladin, Commander of the Israelis Desk at the Gaza DCO, requesting they instruct the agencies in charge of Erez Crossing to refrain from requiring Israelis to deposit their passports upon entering the Gaza Strip.
In its letter, Gisha clarified that the demand, which is presented to the citizens as if it were an official and lawful demand, has no basis in the legal arrangements pertaining to seizing passports as provided for in the Passport Law 5712-1952, and that it contravenes the position of the population and immigration authority as presented in its letter received by Gisha on April 3, 2012.
Gisha countered the claim raised by the authority that citizens deposit their passports voluntarily with an example, representative of many others, of the case of one of its clients, who was instructed to leave her passport as a condition for returning to her home in the Gaza Strip after a visit to Israel.
Related documents (Hebrew)
Letter of Adv. Inbal Rubinstein to the interior minister, February 1, 2012
Response of the legal office of the immigration and population authority, April 3, 2012
Gisha's letter dated April 23, 2012