Freedom of Information Unit demands Major General Eitan Dangot improve his office’s handling of FOIA requests

The Freedom of Information Unit at the Ministry of Justice has asked the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Major General Eitan Dangot, to improve the handling of FOIA requests by his office. The annual report published by the Freedom of Information Unit (Hebrew) states that "at the time of writing, the unit is not yet satisfied that sufficient steps have been taken to correct the existing situation" and that the unit is continuing to monitor the situation.

The report also notes that eight FOIA petitions were filed against COGAT in 2012 and ten against the Interior Ministry. Additionally, 154 FOIA requests were submitted to the Interior Ministry during 2012, including one by Gisha. Gisha also sent seven FOIA requests to COGAT last year.  The total number of FOIA requests submitted to COGAT in 2012 is not mentioned in the report.

Gisha's legal advocacy relied heavily over the past year on the Freedom of Information Act in order to render access policies in the occupied Palestinian territory more transparent. For example, through our work, we were able to reveal the protocols governing travel by Israelis to and from the Gaza Strip, settlement by Palestinians from the West Bank in the Gaza Strip, travel by students from the West Bank to universities in Israel and travel by Palestinians through the Allenby Bridge border crossing. At Gisha's request, COGAT published the Allenby Bridge protocols in Arabic and also sent Gisha the list of criteria for travel by merchants from Gaza to the West Bank and Israel, the process for changing addresses as part of the 2011 gesture to the Palestinian Authority, figures regarding the number of applications filed and more. All the COGAT protocols received as a result of Gisha’s FOIA requests can be found here.