H. moved from the West Bank to live in the Gaza Strip in 2000, after marrying a local resident. The couple had two children, and the family’s livelihood depended on the salary the father received as a civil servant with the Palestinian Authority. When he was laid off due to budget cuts, the couple found themselves without a source of income. This prompted their decision for H. to move to the West Bank with their children and live with her family, who could support them.

H. contacted the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) via the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee several times, asking for a permit. When she received no response, we intervened on her behalf on September 16, 2019, asking for a final answer. Following several reminders, the CLA twice stated that the application needed further screening before a decision could be reached. These responses came on November 4, 2019, and January 20, 2020.

After a five-month wait, Gisha filed a petition (Hebrew) demanding Israel reach a decision in H.’s case immediately and arguing it was taking an unreasonably long time to process the application. Two weeks after the petition was submitted, the state announced (Hebrew) that the petitioner’s request to return to the West Bank with her children was approved and that they would receive a transit permit valid for February 27, 2020.

The petitioners were kept waiting for six months before Israel agreed to allow them to exercise their basic right to return to the West Bank. This is by far not the only case in which months of waiting for a response from the CLA ended thanks only to legal action. In this context, it should be noted that most Gaza residents have no counsel representing them in dealings with the CLA and therefore are often unable to obtain permits, despite being eligible for them.