State submits response in an administrative petition on behalf of Israeli sisters living in the Gaza Strip who wish to enter Israel, AP (Jerusalem) 55909-12-12 Dabas v. Minister of the Interior
According to the Statement of Response, the population administration has recently decided to change how it processes applications to enter Israel submitted by Israelis living in Gaza. According to the new outline formulated by the population administration, instead of submitting applications to enter Israel and entering the country using Palestinian ID cards, as has been the practice until now, the petitioners would have to apply for an Israeli travel document (a passport or a laissez-passer) in order to enter Israel as Israeli citizens. According to the respondents’ requirements, the petitioners would have to file a new application, following the new outline presented in the Statement of Response, despite the fact that their previous application to enter Israel was filed seven months ago and has received no pertinent response to date.
The new outline, which has not been made public yet and has been presented only in the context of this petition and another, similar petition, heard at the Be'er Sheva District Court at the same time (Hebrew), is very general and incomplete. It stipulates that when Israelis who wish to enter their country from Gaza cannot be identified using existing documents or documents previously produced for the purpose of issuing Israeli travel documents, genetic testing would be required to identify the applicants as Israeli citizens who are registered in the population registry. The outline includes no clauses for exceptional cases and makes no reference to special situations, such as that of the petitioners, whose Israeli mother has passed away, precluding a sufficiently accurate tissue test.
Despite the difficulties, inconvenience and high cost of performing genetic tissue tests, the respondents maintain that without Israeli photo IDs, the petitioners would have to take such a test in order to prove their identity. According to the respondents, comparing the petitioners’ Israeli birth certificates with their Palestinian ID cards (which are considered acceptable by Israeli authorities and are issued under the supervision of the Israeli population administration) does not constitute sufficient evidence for identifying the petitioners as Israelis. In this context, it is worth noting that the population administration has made no effort to consider the issue of identifying the petitioners by questioning their Israeli sisters and presenting photos, documents or other administrative evidence that can easily attest to their identity. Counsel for the respondents claims that upon presentation of the new outline and given the option of filing a new application in accordance with the new outline, the petition has been exhausted. Counsel believes that the petitioners must be directed to exhaust remedies vis-à-vis the population authority and their petition must be deleted. This suggestion is made despite countless attempts by Gisha to exhaust remedies vis-à-vis various authorities, including the population authority, for many months before the petition was filed.
The Statement of Response states as a side note that the remedy sought by the petitioners – to leave the Gaza Strip and enter Israel, their country of nationality – is a “very general” remedy, since the Petitioners do not specify the reason for their entry into the country, how long they plan to remain there, etc. On this issue, it is worth noting that the right of all Israeli citizens to enter their country is a constitutional right, provided for in Section 6(b) of Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and citizens are not required to provide any explanation for why they wish to enter Israel. Given that the petitioners are Israeli citizens, it is entirely unclear what “general remedy” the respondents allude to.