Freedom of Information request filed by Gisha reveals army policy documents on movement of people and goods from the West Bank and Gaza Strip
On May 6, 2013, Gisha submitted a request (Hebrew) under the Freedom of Information Act 5788-1998 to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). The request was for Closure Permissions Status documents, which contain orders that detail the current restrictions imposed on the Palestinian territory with respect to movement of goods and people.
The existence of these documents was first revealed following an administrative petition (Hebrew) filed by Gisha (AP 22775-02-11 Gisha v. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories). At the time, the documents that were produced detailed access restrictions imposed on Gaza between 2005 and 2011. In the current Freedom of Information request, Gisha asked for documents pertaining to the period beginning on the date of the last document provided under the petition and through the date of the response to the application. On June 10, 2013, we received COGAT's response (Hebrew), which stated that all 429 pages of the Closure Permissions Status documents would be provided to Gisha. We were surprised to find out that in addition to the information we requested pertaining to the Gaza Strip, the documents also included specifics on Israel's policy regarding West Bank residents – for example, the number of Palestinian laborers permitted to work in Israel, the number of Palestinian merchants permitted to conduct business in Israel, criteria for allowing Palestinian residents to participate in prayers on Temple Mount, a list of categories of individuals that may enter East Jerusalem.
Since answering Gisha's Freedom of Information request, COGAT began posting the Closure Permissions Status orders on its website every time changes are made. The current orders, which are very important for residents of both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, are also posted and updated on Gisha's website (Hebrew).