Gisha files administrative petition with Beersheva District Court against COGAT’s repeated refusal to allow a Gaza resident to visit her spouse who is incarcerated in Israel AP 44356-03-16 A. v. COGAT
R. and her spouse, residents of the Gaza Strip, managed to live together as a married couple for a few years before his 2007 arrest and subsequent 16-year prison sentence to be served in Israel. R.’s life has been put on hold ever since. The now 29-year old was able to visit her spouse in prison in Israel only once, in 2012, when Israel renewed prison visits by Palestinians whose relatives are incarcerated in Israel. Since then, all of R.’s attempts to get a permit from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to exit Gaza to visit her spouse have failed.
In September 2015, Gisha contacted the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) on R.’s behalf, asking that she be allowed to enter Israel to visit her incarcerated spouse. Gisha noted that Israel is bound by its own regulations (Hebrew), as well as international conventions, to allow prison visits and that there is no reason to prevent R., who had not seen her spouse in more than three years, specifically, from visiting.
It was not until February 2016, after a lot back and forth and many delays in processing the request, that the DCO related that it had decided to refuse the request “for security reasons which, naturally, cannot be disclosed”. Gisha submitted a request for reconsideration, given the clear humanitarian nature of the application and the fact that the security-based objection had nothing to do with anything R. herself has done, but was rather ascribed to her only because she is married to a security prisoner held in Israel. The DCO would not retract its decision.
Therefore, on March 21, 2016, Gish filed a petition (Hebrew) with the Beersheva District Court, sitting as the Court for Administrative Affairs, asking it to order COGAT and the Gaza DCO to approve R.’s entry to Israel to visit her spouse in prison. The petition was filed together with a motion to hear the petition as soon as possible given its urgent and humanitarian nature.
After the petition was filed, the court ordered COGAT to respond by May 1, 2016. The hearing was scheduled for May 9, 2016.
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