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5.2.2019

Following HaMoked’s court petition: the military allowed a PhD student to return to his studies in Algeria, after he was repeatedly prevented from leaving – and following an illicit attempt to pressure him to collaborate

On July 11, 2018, a Palestinian who lives near Hebron and works as an education counselor in UNRWA arrived at the Allenby Bridge border crossing in order to exit the West Bank and return to his PhD studies in Education in Algeria. The man, who frequently traveled abroad in the past without hindrance, was surprised to find the military refused to let him continue on his way, telling him there was a foreign-travel ban logged against him.

In a response to a query filed with the military on the man's behalf, the military responded on July 30, 2018, that “there is no foreign [travel] ban” against him. That same day, the man returned to the border crossing to return to Algeria, to fulfill his academic duties. But again the military prevented him from leaving and instructed him to file an appeal against the foreign-travel ban imposed on him. The man appealed as instructed. On August 14, 2018 a military representative called the man and clarified that there was no foreign-travel ban against him. But when the man arrived at the crossing two days later, once again he was prevented from exiting, for the third time in a row.

Given the military’s erratic conduct, the man asked for HaMoked’s assistance, which filed an appeal on the man’s behalf on August 21, 2018. On the following day, the answer arrived, stating that “the resident is not at all banned from going abroad”. The man went back to Allenby Bridge on August 23, 2018, but yet again was prevented from leaving. This time the military announced that “a new ban” had been logged against him and that his matter would be handled in the framework of the appeal HaMoked had filed some days earlier.

On October 16, 2018, the military notified HaMoked that the man’s appeal was “rejected on September 16, 2018” – an entire month before this response was provided – on the vague grounds that the man “served as a courier for entities suspected in mobilizing military activity from the outside. There is concern that your departure would be exploited for the benefit of promoting security activity vis-à-vis the territory”.

Therefore, on December 3, 2018, HaMoked petitioned the Court for Administrative Affairs to lift the foreign-travel ban before the man would miss the entire academic semester. HaMoked clarified that obtaining a PhD would allow the man to develop his career and expand his horizons. HaMoked added that there was cause for concern that the exit ban imposed on the man and the military’s disgraceful conduct in his case stemmed from security officials’ attempt to coerce him to become a collaborator: a few days after he returned from his studies in Algeria in May 2018, the man was arrested for the first time in his life and held in custody for about two weeks. On the eve of his release from custody, the man was asked whether he intended to return to Algeria, and when he said yes, the interrogator clarified that he, the interrogator, could prevent him from going abroad or allow him to leave. The interrogator said that he would help the man return to his studies if he agreed to collaborate in return. After the man rejected the “offer”, the interrogator told him explicitly that he could never again leave the West Bank. This despite the express prohibition in international law on pressuring a protected person to collaborate with the occupying power. Unsurprisingly, the military started preventing the man from going abroad, while giving contradictory notices and delaying as much as possible processing his request to lift the ban.

After further foot dragging, and before a hearing was held, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office announced on January 16, 2019, that it was decided to lift the foreign-travel ban provided that the man sign an undertaking to refrain from terrorist activities.

The man signed the undertaking and went abroad on February 4, 2019, some six months after he was first prevented from leaving.
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