June 30, 2017

The Dual-Use Equipment Directive, issued in 2008 (Hebrew), lists the items Israel considers to be “dual-use” (items with primary civilian uses that Israel believes could also be used for military purposes). Bringing “dual-use” items into the West Bank or the Gaza Strip requires a special permit from Israel. The directive contains two lists. The first list, entitled “Addendum 1,” contains items destined for the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. The other, broader list, entitled “Addendum 2,” details items specific to the Gaza Strip. The second list was added to the directive in 2015, and in fact, increases the number and types of items that require a special permit in order to be brought into Gaza.

According to the Defense Export Control Law (Hebrew), pursuant to which the procedure in question was issued, those authorized to issue the special “dual-use” permit are the director general of the Ministry of Defense, the head of the ministry’s Supervision Division, or anyone officially delegated by them. In 2008 (Hebrew), the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), his second in command, and three Civil Administration staff officers were delegated authorities to issue permits for bringing “dual-use” goods into Gaza and the West Bank. In 2013 (Hebrew), the head of the Gaza Civil Liaison Administration (CLA) and the CLA’s industry and commerce staff officer were added to the delegation of authorized officials. However, all of the officials mentioned above were only given authority to issue permits for goods listed in Addendum 1, which, as stated, was the only “dual-use” list up until 2015, when Addendum 2 was added.

Though this long list of items prohibited from entering the Gaza Strip without a permit was added to the directive in 2015, the list of delegated officials was never amended, leaving in question the authority to issue permits for these items. Moreover, in the absence of the official authority to do so, staff officers or COGAT officials issuing permits for one of the items listed in Addendum 2, were, in fact, breaching the law and overreaching their authorities.

Gisha repeatedly cautioned (both in Hebrew) COGAT about this legal lacuna, pointing to the lack of  legal basis for COGAT staff officers’ authority to approve or deny permit applications for items listed in Addendum 2. COGAT ignored the questions raised by Gisha, citing the delegation of authorities from 2013 in its responses (both in Hebrew), which, as stated, is irrelevant.

It was only after Gisha wrote directly (Hebrew) to the military advocate general and the attorney general (May 17, 2017), that the delegation of authorities was officially published on June 29, 2017 in the Official Government Gazette (“Reshumot”). According to the updated delegation of authorities, the environmental and communications staff officers of the West Bank Civil Administration have the power to issue permits for items entering the Gaza Strip, so long as these items relate to communications, chemical or plastics equipment. Other items, such as vehicles, construction materials, lumber, x-ray machines, gas tanks, and pumps require permits issued by the industry and commerce staff officer, or the head of the economics department, both stationed at the Gaza CLA.

The updated delegation of authorities of COGAT officials is important; not only inasmuch as the law requires the state to officially and publicly delegate authorities, but also because it increases the transparency of the procedures and practices of state authorities with respect to critical, humanitarian issues such as the entry of goods into Gaza. Demanding good governance with respect to permits to bring goods into Gaza is an essential component of promoting the protection of the rights of Gaza residents, who need these items for the sake of economic activity, which clearly falls within Israel’s self-professed interests. Gisha will continue to fight to modify COGAT’s practices with respect to the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip in general, and of dual-use items in particular.