State response in AP 19657-08-13 B’Tselem v. Minister of Defense submitted, clarifying respondents’ policy on the entry of Gaza-based Palestinian staff of Israeli organizations to Israel
The respondents repeated the position presented in their preliminary response (Hebrew) of August 14, 2013, stating there has been no change in Israel's policy on travel into and out of Gaza in recent years, and that such travel is permitted only in exceptional humanitarian cases with an emphasis on urgent medical cases. The response further stated that the arguments made by the petitioners for allowing two Palestinian B'Tselem staff members to enter Israel from Gaza for the purpose of professional training have been made in the past and rejected by the court in a number of judgments. The judgments cited by the state were issued in entirely different circumstances (travel by students from Gaza to the West Bank, HCJ 495/12 Izzat v. Minister of Defense and entry from Gaza to Israel for the purpose of exercising the right to religious worship – AAA 4620/11 Qishawi v. Ministry of Interior (Hebrew)). The response further stated that the state has the discretion to decide to allow entry to staff members of international organizations only, and not Israel organization, as a matter of foreign policy.
With regards to the contradiction between the respondents' decision to deny entry to B'Tselem staff members for professional training and the fact that a Gisha staff member has been allowed into Israel over the years, the respondents raised the argument that there was no obligation to treat foreigners seeking entry into Israel equally and that in any case, the applications made by the Gisha staff member "were approved ex gratia. This aberration will not be repeated".