Security Prisoner
Security Detainee
Administrative Detainee
Total
20.6.2005

Expulsion of residents of the West Bank to Gaza based solely on their registered address: HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice in the matter of three Palestinian residents of the West Bank who were expelled to the Gaza Strip. Expulsion based solely on registered address is not authorized by law and causes severe consequences. Following the petitions two of the deportees were allowed to return to the West Bank 

The case of the petitioner in HCJ 4465/05
The petitioner is a 34-year-old Palestinian who was born in Gaza. In 1999, he obtained a permit to pass through Israel and he moved to Jericho. He settled in Jericho, and is the owner of a computer store in the city. Several times, the petitioner failed in his attempt to change his address in the population registry, because in recent years Israel has refused to consider requests to change addresses in the registry, and does not recognize changes made by the Palestinian Authority in accordance with the PA’s authority.

On 8 September 2004, the tranquil life of the Petitioner in Jericho ended. While he was in an internet cafe in the city servicing the computers, a Special Forces unit, apparently belonging to the army, entered the cafe and detained everybody in the establishment. The security forces apparently were looking for wanted persons.

The petitioner was grabbed by chance: he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. After the arrest, he was asked numerous times where he lived, and he replied that he lived in Jericho, but that his registered address was Gaza. To the best of his knowledge, other than the five wanted persons, the owner of the internet cafe and himself, all the others were released. He remained in detention for another seven days, in which he was not questioned at all. The petitioner felt as if the only reason he was kept in detention was that he was registered as living in Gaza.

On 15 September 2004, the petitioner’s fears were proven true: he was told that he would be released in Gaza. His request to speak with an officer, in the hope that he could avoid the expulsion, was rejected. Expulsion of the petitioner to the Gaza Strip immediately changed his life for the worse. He was compelled to leave behind his home, his friends, the woman with whom he was about to become engaged, his shop and his source of livelihood. After his expulsion, the petitioner worked as a part-time computer technician for the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior in Gaza, and could hardly make a living.

Following the petition, Israel finally allowed his return to the West Bank.

The case of the petitioner in HCJ 4465/05 is not unique. Recently, HaMoked filed two other petitions with the High Court on exactly the same issue.

The petitioner in HCJ 3555/05 is a Palestinian whose parents are from Gaza. The entire family moved to the West Bank in 1968. The petitioner was born in 1977 in Qalqiliya and was raised there. He is the sole supporter of the seven members of his family. In this case, too, the petitioner wanted to issue an identity card in the West Bank, but the Israeli authorities refused on the grounds that he was registered in their records as a resident of Gaza. He was caught in Israel by Border Police while seeking livelihood. Although the authorities knew that he was a resident of the West Bank, he was expelled to Gaza, and lived there as an impoverished refugee. As in the former case, following the petition, Israel allowed him to return to the West Bank.

HCJ 3519/00 involves the case of a Palestinian who was released from administrative detention on 21 February 2005, as part of the gestures made by Israel to the head of the Palestinian Authority following the Sharm el Sheikh summit. Although it was clear to the army that he lived in Jenin, where he had grow up since age 11, the petitioner was released in Gaza, based ostensibly on his registered address. In light of the siege that Israel has placed on the Gaza Strip, and its almost total detachment from the West Bank, “release” in his case was the same as exile (on this point, see the report of HaMoked and B’Tselem, One Big Prison, published in March 2005). The State has not yet given its final answer regarding this case.

Lack of statutory authority to expel the petitioners to Gaza
The only reason given for expelling these petitioners, and others in similar cases, is that their registered address is in Gaza. For a long time, HaMoked has requested by letter and in petitions to the High Court of Justice for the source of authority underlying the policy of refusing to recognize a change of residential address in all its aspects. For example, HCJ 5504/03, Kahlut, deals with the expulsion to Gaza of a Palestinian who had gone to live in the West Bank, and even changed his registered address; HCJ 10676/04, Shamlak, which deals with the right of a Palestinian family to return from Gaza to the West Bank, and the right of Palestinians to change their place of residence between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank; HCJ 11355/04, Haga, which deals with granting the request of a Palestinian woman living in Gaza, but who is registered as living in West Bank, to go abroad.

The state have reason for not explaining the statutory basis for its position: there is no such source. There is no statutory basis for the respondents to decide that a particular person is allowed to live only in Gaza, solely because his registered address is Gaza.

First, no prior request to change address is required. A resident is required to inform the competent authority of the change in address only after the change in the place of residence. Only notification is mentioned – and not a power that requires the exercise of discretion. The notification has to be given to the competent authority for that purpose, pursuant to the law applying in the Occupied Territories, i.e., the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli side has not respected Palestinian jurisdiction in this matter; as a result, the Palestinian authorities have stopped recording changes in registered address.

Second, every person has the fundamental right to change her place of residence. Limitation of this right, referred to as “assigned residence,” is allowed only as a preventive measure and for imperative security reasons. The expulsion of the petitioners to Gaza does not profess to be based on the power to assign residence, and it is not contended that they comprise a security threat.

Not allowing Palestinians to change their place of residence, and the expulsion that follows, also contradicts Israel’s consistently-held position that, in accordance with Article 11 of the of the Interim Agreement, signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip constitute a single territorial unit, a position that the state argued in the Ajuri case and was accepted by the court. That is, if the army believes that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are a single territorial unit, so long as the assigned residence procedure is not implemented, a person may change his place of residence as he wishes, even between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The petitions emphasize the harsh consequences of the expulsion on the lives of the petitioners. They are severed from their families, homes, friends, and towns. The action constitutes grave infringement of their rights and violation of their human dignity, their right to family life, and their right to gain a livelihood for themselves and their dependents. 

mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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