M. is a young woman who was diagnosed with cancer in early 2018 and has been treated since that time in a hospital in Jordan. On March 4, 2020, M. left for Jordan for further treatment, along with her mother. When the treatment was complete, she contacted the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee (PCAC) in Gaza to arrange for their return home, which was scheduled for May 18, 2020. M. ended up extended her stay and not traveling on that date , on the advice of her doctors who noted that because she had had radioactive iodine treatment, proximity to other people was risky. Given the circumstances, M. and her mother asked to enter the West Bank and travel to Gaza via Israel a week later.
Unfortunately, on May 21, 2020, the Palestinian Authority halted coordination with Israel over Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank. This decision meant that the PCAC ceased operations, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) no longer ran shuttles between the Allenby Bridge and Erez crossings. When no change in the situation came, after two months, Gisha contacted the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration on behalf of M. and her mother on August 11, 2020, demanding they be allowed to return home. On August 17, 2020, a response came stating that the application was denied due to the cessation of coordination and shuttle service by the PA. It was further stated that Israel was reconsidering its policy, and should changes be made, M. and her mother might be able to return home.
On August 20, 2020, Gisha filed a petition (Hebrew) on behalf of the mother and her sick daughter, arguing that returning to one’s home and homeland is a fundamental right to which every human being is entitled under international law. Israel has a duty to consider applications regardless of the functioning of the PCAC, and this duty can not be withdrawn due to bureaucratic or procedural difficulties. Gisha further argued that Israel practiced discrimination against Gaza residents as, while it refused to process their applications allegedly due to lack of coordination, permit applications from the West Bank were still being processed despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority had ceased coordination in that part of the Palestinian territory as well.
In its response (Hebrew), the state insisted on its rejection, noting again that the policy was under review and may change, but that without Palestinian coordination or a Palestinian Authority shuttle, the petitioners’ return could not be approved. The state went so far as to note that the petitioners’ request to return home was not the only one pending before the CLA and that many Gaza residents were waiting to return home. The state argued this meant “there is no room to consider [the petitioners’] matter out of context while showing favoritism towards them compared to other Gaza residents in whose name an administrative petition is yet to be filed.”
On September 2, 2020, the night before the hearing, M.’s mother told us her daughter had taken a turn for the worse and has been admitted to hospital for an unknown duration. Gisha, therefore, asked (Hebrew) to postpone the hearing and stated it would inform the court within 30 days if M.’s condition allowed her to return home. The state objected, demanding the petitioners file a new petition in the future.
In the judgment (Hebrew), delivered on September 3, 2020, Judge Dana Cohen-Lekach accepted the position of the state and ordered the petition deleted.