State withdraws demand that Israeli citizens who live in the Gaza Strip undergo genetic tissue testing to prove their identity, in al-Wahidi v. Minister of Interior
On December 31, 2012, an administrative petition (Hebrew) was filed at the Beersheva District Court, on behalf of a Palestinian citizen of Israel who resides in the Gaza Strip and had been trying to coordinate entry into Israel since August 2012 without receiving a concrete response from the authorities.
In their preliminary response (Hebrew), the respondents did not dispute that the petitioner was in fact an Israeli citizen whose entitlement to enter the country was enshrined in Section 6 of Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. However, they did argue that since she did not have an Israeli identity document, she had to undergo genetic testing in order to confirm her identity. The respondents explained that according to a new "outline" formulated by the Ministry of Interior, any Israeli citizen in the Gaza Strip without Israeli identification documents, would, from that point on, be required to undergo genetic tissue testing to confirm his or her identity for the purpose of entering Israel.
At the hearing, held on February 28, 2013, before Judge Sarah Dovrat, Adv. Nomi Heger of Gisha strongly objected to tissue testing, arguing that it was an extreme and unreasonable measure provided the circumstances. Adv. Heger argued that there were other, less invasive, less complicated and less expensive means by which the petitioner could be identified. At the end of the hearing, on the judge's recommendation, the parties agreed to make an effort to reach an agreement. Subsequently, in a notice submitted on March 14, 2013 (Hebrew), the respondents withdrew their position of demanding tissue testing as the first course of action in cases where there is no Israeli documentation and agreed to hold an inquiry in order to confirm the petitioner's identity. The respondents received a 30-day extension in order to pursue this resolution.
As the inquiry was not held at the end of the allotted period, the judge reprimanded the respondents and, in a decision given on April 22, 2013 (Hebrew), ordered that the inquiry be held within ten days, stating "this conduct will be addressed come time to deliver a judgment". Following this decision, the petitioner and her mother were interviewed separately and immediately thereafter, the respondents gave notice that they had been convinced of the petitioner's identity and that they approved her entry into Israel. On May 22, 2013, nine months after she initially contacted the authorities, Ms. al-Wahidi finally entered Israel with a passport that had been issued for her and sent to Erez Crossing.
As the dispute had been resolved, the petition was deleted with consent of the parties. Despite this, the judge decided to grant the petitioner's request for a costs order (Hebrew) after finding that "the very fact that the petition was filed led to the resolution of the matter" and that "despite the extensions granted to the respondent, it did not haste to hold the inquiry – to put it mildly – and the inquiry was held only after the court scheduled a date for the same".
Accordingly, the state was ordered to pay 7,000 NIS in costs and legal fees.
To read the judgment (Hebrew).