COGAT responds to Gisha’s Freedom of Information Application regarding Gaza residents’ travel abroad via Ben Gurion International Airport
Response received July 17, 2016.
On May 30, 2016, Gisha sent the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) a Freedom of Information Application (Hebrew) for facts and figures related to Israel’s policy and implementation thereof, with respect to requests by Palestinian residents of Gaza to travel abroad via Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, as well as requests by BMG (Business Man Gaza) permit holders and their companions. Gisha also asked for information about the procedures and protocols governing departure by Gaza residents and BMG permit holders via Ben Gurion Airport, and the timeframes for processing both ordinary and urgent requests.
After requesting more time to reply, COGAT’s response (Hebrew) arrived on July 17, 2016. COGAT confirmed that from May 2009 to the date of the letter, a total of 430 requests for travel via Ben Gurion Airport had been made, of which 260 were approved. The response also stated that since 2015, forty requests for travel through Ben Gurion Airport were made by BMG permit holders, eight of which were approved (the rest were denied for security reasons).
Other than this information, COGAT failed to answer our requests for clarification on the protocols, procedures and timeframes related to requests for travel via Ben Gurion Airport, and did not provide a breakdown of the requests (not even by year or reason for travel) made by either Gaza residents, or BMG permit holders.