The Israeli Population and Immigration Authority has agreed to accept power of attorney forms sent by fax from Israelis who live in the Gaza Strip.

Erez Crossing (Reuters)April 25, 2012: The Population and Immigration Authority issued a notice (Hebrew) that it would accept power of attorney forms sent by fax from Israeli citizens who reside in the Gaza Strip. Up until Gisha's intervention, the Population and Immigration Authority refused to accept power of attorney forms sent by fax and in so doing, prevented Israeli lawyers from assisting Israeli citizens living in the Strip. Since Gaza residents often need legal assistance just to leave the Strip, obtaining a power of attorney in any way other than by fax was impossible.

The response of the authority was received on April 3, 2012, after the Israel Bar Association backed up Gisha’s position and sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior on February 1, 2012. The bar association argued that the authority’s decision not only impinged on the right of Israeli citizens living in Gaza to legal counsel but also on lawyers’ freedom of occupation.

Gisha’s own letter to the Population and Immigration Authority addressed additional issues relating to the treatment of Israeli citizens who reside in the Gaza Strip. The authority has not yet responded to all the issues and the responses it has provided have been lacking. For example, Gisha asked why Israeli residents of the Gaza Strip are required to deposit their passports at Erez Crossing. The authority answered that the passports are deposited voluntarily and that it has issued no directive to do so. This response contradicts reports from Gisha’s clients according to which they were required to deposit their passports at the crossing. Following the response received by the Population and Immigration Authority, Gisha contacted Colonel Khatib Mansour, Commander of the Gaza DCO and Warrant Officer Amer Nasserladin, Commander of the desk dealing with Israeli citizens at the Gaza DCO on April 23, 2012, requesting the authorities refrain from requiring Israeli citizens to deposit their passports upon entering the Gaza Strip.