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State pledges before HCJ to process Palestinians' applications for visitation permits for prisons in Israel within two and a half months: the undertaking was given following HaMoked's petition against the military's foot-dragging in the processing of applications

In September 2007, HaMoked petitioned the HCJ concerning the petitioner's application to visit her husband who is incarcerated in Israel. For two and a half years, she had not received any response. The petitioner has not seen her incarcerated husband for four years. In the petition, HaMoked raised claims against the military's general conduct, which entails not responding in a timely fashion or not responding at all to applications by Palestinians from the Occupied Territories who seek to visit their loved ones in Israeli prisons.

In a hearing in the petition held on 4 November 2007, the Court accepted the State's position regarding the petitioner's individual case, and announced, after reviewing the confidential material, that the petitioner would not be permitted to visit her incarcerated husband, "for reasons of security".  The Court noted that her request to visit her husband may be reconsidered in three to four years. HaMoked deleted the petition insofar as the petitioner's application was concerned, but the issue of principle – the military's foot dragging and failure to respond to applications, remained pending. The Court ruled that the State must submit its response regarding the military's failure to provide responses within 60 days. The State submitted its response only on 26 February 2008, after HaMoked was again forced to request that the Court instruct the State to conduct "a general investigation regarding the timeframe for providing responses to similar applications, and the conclusions which have been reached".

The State announced that a new working procedure it has instituted would ensure that the processing of applications by Palestinians who are precluded from entering Israel and seek to visit relatives in Israeli prisons is completed within two to two and a half months. The new procedure would prevent delays and problems which occurred in the petitioner's case – the State claimed that the previous working procedure made it impossible to trace the exact date on which her application was submitted.

On 25 May 2009, the Court ruled that due to the State's announcement regarding the new working procedure, which is supposed to ensure that applications are processed more promptly, within two to two and a half months, the petition had exhausted itself. The Court acknowledged the fact that even if the military adheres to the timeframe of two and a half months for processing such applications, visitors would only be able to visit their family members in prison three times a year at most, and ruled that such a state of affairs would be reasonable.

HaMoked's inquiry indicates that despite the State's undertaking before the Court on 26 February 2008, the situation has not changed. Out of 372 applications for visitation permits handled by HaMoked between 1 March 2008 and 1 June 2009, (three says after the State's undertaking before the Court), only 8 were processed within two and a half months. 

To view the judgment dated 25 May 2009 (Hebrew) 

To view the Court's decision dated 23 January 2008 (Hebrew) (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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