The HCJ dissatisfied with the military’s conduct: “…why [are] responses… not provided on time to applicants… forcing them to file a petition with all the entailed waste of resources of the parties, the court… and at the last minute, after studying the file, the ban is lifted. We are weary of the like.”
Palestinians who are under a military ban on exit abroad due to “security reasons”, may file a written objection which must be answered by the military within eight weeks’ time. Thus stipulates the relevant procedure, but the reality is different. Frequently, the military fails to respond within the stipulated timetable, leaving applicants to wait for weeks if not months for a response. The state's conduct leaves applicants no option but to seek the assistance of the High Court of Justice (HCJ). And in many cases, once a court petition has been filed, the military withdraws “security” exit ban.
Thus happened in HaMoked’s recent petition on behalf of a West Bank resident whose objection to the military’s refusal to let him go to Jordan – on the ground that he was blacklisted by the Israel Security Agency (ISA) – remained unanswered. Initially, even after the petition was filed, the state continued refusing to allow the man to go abroad; but later on – before the court hearing – it recanted and lifted the exit ban in return for the man’s written pledge not to engage in terrorism. Therefore, HaMoked asked the court to delete the petition.
Although the sought remedy was obtained and the petition deleted with the parties’ consent, the court saw fit to severely criticize the state’s conduct, which had long become a routine. In a short judgment issued July 5, 2016, the HCJ clarified it had had enough of the state’s practice in such cases and the waste of the court’s precious time, lamenting: “who does ever consider it [the court] at all, and the time of the secretariat staff and the justices… We are weary of the like”. The court instructed the state to submit within a week from the judgment a notice together with an affidavit of the Head of the Civil Administration, explaining its conduct and outlining “a mechanism for preventing these recurring situations”.
HaMoked’s data indicates this is a common practice. In 2015 alone, HaMoked filed 48 petitions over non-response to applications by West bank residents whom the military banned from going abroad; in 27 of these cases the military lifted the ban before a court hearing was held; and in two others the ban was lifted following the hearing in the HCJ.