For 27 years, the military prevented a Palestinian deportee from returning to the OPT: while the state dawdled in processing his request, the man died in exile
In 1985, the military deported to Jordan a Palestinian man from the Beit Furik village in the Nablus district in the West Bank. He was deported after several days of detention, without hearing or judicial review. The deportation – executed contrary to international law and the decision of the High Court of Justice (HCJ) – tore him from his parents, siblings and his new bride, whom he married some months before. The steadfast wife kept visiting him in Jordan, and in time, the couple had six children, who all lived with their mother in the West Bank. Over the years, the woman filed more than ten requests to allow her husband to return to live with her at their family home, but the military refused every time. Thus, the man was destined to spend the rest of his life far from his wife, children and parents.
In July 1996, HaMoked requested the military to allow the man to return to the West Bank, and stressed that the deportation had been in violation of international law and basic humanitarian values. It should be noted that immediately after the signing of the Oslo Accords, the military allowed many deportees to return to their homeland. Nine months after HaMoked's application, the military rejected it briefly, stating that: "the commander of the IDF forces in the Judaea and Samaria Area has decided to reject the subject's request to return to the Area". The military provided no explanation or reason for its persistent, over a decade long refusal to allow the man's repatriation!
In February 2005, HaMoked applied to the military once more, requesting to allow the man to come back to his country. Months, even years passed, with no resolution in sight. In September 2010, having exhausted all other options, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice to instruct the military to respond to the man's repatriation request, cancel the deportation warrant against him – issued 25 years earlier (!), and allow him to return to live in the West Bank. HaMoked stressed that a person's right to live in his home and country is established in Israeli law, likewise in international and human rights law. Furthermore, that under international humanitarian law deportation from the occupied territory is strictly prohibited. HaMoked added that the man's deportation fatally injured his wife's, children's, and his own right to family life, including the right of parents to live with their children and the right of couples to live together. Finally, HaMoked argued that the military is legally bound to respond to applications within a reasonable time frame, given that "the obligation to act with due haste is one of the cornerstones of proper governance".
The fact that legal action was initiated did not prompt the Israeli authorities to handle the case more expeditiously. For months, the state delayed its response to the petition, and repeatedly sought extensions. Only after the court set the petition for hearing, the state announced that the military had decided to allow the man to return to the West Bank, subject to a new application for a visit permit on his behalf.
One might easily assume that once the state had announced its consent to the man's repatriation, the case would have been resolved, but this was not so. Although the prerequisite visit permit application was filed early, on May 22, 2011, the state continued to procrastinate, and like before, it was only after the court decided to hold a hearing on the petition, that there was any indication of the application being processed: on April 3, 2012, the state informed that the delay was due to the fact that it required the petitioner's personal details in English (!). No less. Needless to say, the state already had these details for a long time, a copy of the man's passport having been attached to the application on his behalf.
On the next day, HaMoked called the man's home, only to learn from his family that he had died at his home in Jordan.
On April 16, 2012, the petition was erased at HaMoked's request. Following the justice's advice, the state paid HaMoked trial costs in the sum of ILS 7,500. The petition came to an end following the man's death in exile. This, because the state never bothered to complete the bureaucracy required for the realization of his return from exile.