On July 29, 2019, Gisha and partner human rights organization HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual filed an application (Hebrew) under the Freedom of Information Act – 1998 in which it asked the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to provide details about the implementation of the Procedure for handling Applications by Gaza Strip Residents for settlement in the Judea and Samaria Area (the settlement procedure). Similar applications have been filed by Gisha with respect to the procedure’s implementation since it was published in 2009.

On September 21, 2020, COGAT replied (Hebrew), supplying alarming figures that indicate the Settlement Procedure was, in fact, designed to deny “status applications” rather than to accept them. COGAT stated that only one application was filed under the settlement procedure between March 2017 and September 2020. COGAT specified that the application had been filed by a man in his sixties and had been approved by Israeli authorities without a judicial process pursuant to COGAT’s authority, under the catch-all clause, to approve applications involving “exceptional humanitarian circumstances due to which the applicant is no longer able to continue living in the Gaza Strip.” Previous responses indicate that from the time the procedure was released and up until September 2020, only six applications had been filed under the procedure, and five of them had been approved. Only one application was approved without legal action. Two were approved after an examination pursuant to the catch-all clause.

The figures provided by COGAT in response to the FOIA application clarify once again that the process outlined in Israel’s settlement procedure precludes any realistic option of filing applications to update address registration from Gaza to the West Bank and, therefore, for having such applications approved by Israel. The settlement procedure remains a dead letter, and the criteria stipulated in it are so stringent and restrictive that they cannot be met.