State responds to administrative petition on behalf of an Israeli citizen who resides in the Gaza Strip and wishes to enter Israel AP (Beer Sheva) 63291-12-12 Wahidi v. Minister of Interior
In response to the petition, counsel for the respondents filed a “Notice and Motion for Deletion” (Hebrew) on February 21, 2013. This submission was made instead of filing a preliminary response as the court had instructed. Subsequently, in a hearing held at the Beersheva District Court on February 28, 2013, Court Vice-President Sarah Dovrat ordered counsel for the respondents to submit a Statement of Response within 14 days, due to the absence of specific reference to the legal arguments made in the petition and the petitioner herself in the state’s notice.
In the introduction to the notice that was filed, the respondent explained that it did not dispute that the petitioner has, in principle, a right to enter Israel, being an Israeli citizen, and that the dispute revolved around identifying her in the absence of an Israeli identity document. The respondents claimed that the petitioner’s Palestinian ID card could not be used to confirm her identity as the person registered in the Israeli population registry. It should be noted that this position is incongruent with practice in similar situations, where Israeli citizens who reside in the Gaza Strip entered Israel without an Israeli identity document. Until now, as prescribed in the Entry into Israel Order (Exemption for Gaza Residents) (Temporary Order) 5765-2005 (Hebrew), neither Israeli citizens nor Palestinian residents traveling through Erez Crossing were required to have travel documents as they would have in other border crossings.
The notice further stated that the Population Authority had outlined what actions should be taken in order to identify Israeli citizens who wish to enter the country from Gaza. In order to have a passport issued "an individual examination will be held to determine whether it is possible to identify the applicant using various means, including reviewing the material in the registry files in Israel, for the purpose of issuing an Israeli travel document. Where conclusive identification cannot be made using the means at the disposal of the respondent, issuance of a passport shall be subject to a tissue test for the purpose of conclusively verifying the identity of the applicant". It should be noted that this protocol, unlike the other protocols the population administration posts on its website, is incomplete and general.
The respondents claim that the petitioner cannot be identified because she has no Israeli identification documents, after having deposited her Israeli identity card at the Civil Administration in the 1980s. Therefore, if she wishes to enter Israel as an Israeli citizen, she would have to undergo genetic testing to verify her identity. On the other hand, the respondents are prepared to identify her as a Palestinian using her Palestinian identity card, which is recognized by the Israeli authorities as an admissible document for all intents and purposes and allow her to enter Israel as a Palestinian, subject to a security check. In this context, it should be noted that a Palestinian identity card is a document that is issued by the Palestinian Authority under full coordination with the Israeli authorities. In other words: the respondents are prepared to admit that citizen X exists in the Israeli population registry and that the same citizen X has a Palestinian identity card. They are also prepared to identify her as a Palestinian using that card. However, rather than simply cross-referencing the information, they demand the exceptional, extreme measure of genetic tissue testing in order to confirm that the petitioner is really who she says she is.