A vast number of protocols and procedures issued by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) govern the lives of people living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Among other things, these protocols and procedures regulate movement of people and access for goods. They determine, for example, the criteria one needs to meet in order to request a permit to visit a sick relative, attend a family celebration, relocate, take up academic studies, participate in professional training, or to receive a permit to work in Israel, import and export goods and much, much more. The great volume of procedures is indicative of Israel’s ongoing and extensive control over the lives of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
In recent years, Gisha has filed dozens of requests and petitions based on the Freedom of Information Act aimed at compelling COGAT to make its procedures known to the public. Following a Freedom of Information petition filed by Gisha against COGAT, and a further Freedom of Information petition filed by Gisha against the Civil Administration, COGAT began publishing its procedures for governing the movement and activity of Palestinians in 2014. The court also ordered both COGAT and the Civil Administration to translate their procedures into Arabic, so that they are available to the people whose lives they control to such a great extent.
Despite this important achievement by Gisha, there are many aspects of Israel’s control over Palestinians for which there are no formal procedures published by COGAT or where procedures might contradict one another or be outdated, such that transparency continues to be a serious problem and one with far-reaching consequences for everyday life in Gaza and the West Bank.
The criteria set by Israel for Palestinians’ travel to and from Gaza via Erez Crossing are extremely narrow, limited almost entirely to a small number of traders and businessmen, medical patients in need of life-saving treatment outside the Strip, and what Israel calls “humanitarian exceptions,” that is, visiting a dying first-degree relative, or attending a wedding or a funeral of a first-degree relative. All criteria set by Israeli authorities for the movement of Palestinians to and from Gaza, the West Bank, Israel, and abroad, are listed in a document called “Unclassified Status of Authorizations for the Entry of Palestinians into Israel, their Passage between Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip and their Travel Abroad,” which is updated every so often by COGAT and periodically translated to English by Gisha for the benefit of the English-speaking public. It is not published officially in English or Arabic.
We have chosen to post a selection of Israel’s procedures to our site in the interest of contributing to an informed public debate, as well as pointing to the sheer, mind-blowing magnitude of restrictions, stipulations and prohibitions implemented by Israel. For a more comprehensive list of existing procedures and protocols relating to movement of people and goods to and from Gaza, see link at the bottom of the page. Notably, following Gisha’s prolonged legal battle for the procedures to be exposed and formally published most existing procedures are published to COGAT’s website as well, which can be viewed here.
Entering and exiting Gaza
Arrangements for divided families (Hebrew)
Procedure for extended stay abroad (Hebrew)
Procedure for marketing fresh agricultural produce from Gaza to the West Bank (Hebrew) – January 2015
For a complete list of procedures and protocols, see here.