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HaMoked in a petition to the HCJ: instruct the military to allow entry into Israel via Shu'fat Checkpoint to Palestinians who live east of the separation wall inside Jerusalem and have stay permits by virtue of the family unification procedure

Palestinians who hold Israeli stay permits as part of the family unification procedure, and live in Jerusalem neighborhoods that are located east of the separation wall, are not allowed to cross Shu'fat Checkpoint. Instead, they must take bypass roads, which significantly prolong their commute to work, their children's schools, medical facilities and in fact, any place located on the other side of the wall.

On August 5, 2012, HaMoked contacted the military with a request to allow these residents to travel through Shu'fat Checkpoint, emphasizing the trouble and nuisance traveling through other checkpoints causes to people who live near Shu'fat Checkpoint. The military responded that there was no reason to open the checkpoint to anyone holding an Israeli stay permit, and that the checkpoint was never meant to serve residents registered in the Palestinian population registry because it cannot accommodate the security screenings this would require. The military also claimed that it is impossible to verify the claims made by individuals seeking to cross the checkpoint regarding their place of residence. The military explained that other than residents of Anata, who received clearance to use the checkpoint due to its proximity to their neighborhood, all other residents who have Israeli stay permits must use the “designated” crossing points, which are about 25 minutes away by car.

HaMoked contacted the military again, arguing that it should distinguish between people who have stay permits given as part of the family unification procedure and other permit holders, and explaining that individuals in the family unification procedure have already undergone extensive security screening, held every year, whenever the stay permit is renewed. In fact, individuals who have passed this screening, and were given a stay permit, may, as far as Israel is concerned, travel freely within its territory. HaMoked also said that Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement should not be violated so severely simply for technical, logistical reasons. HaMoked stressed that contrary to what the military had said, security forces do have access to detailed information about where people who have stay permits given as part of the family unification live. The letter also stated that the decision to clear only Anata residents for passage was peculiar, since that neighborhood is farther away and some of its residents are not even Jerusalem residents. Finally, HaMoked criticized the military’s calculation which ostensibly showed that using another checkpoint added only 25 minutes to the commute. HaMoked explained that this calculation was wrong and that in reality, the commute was more than an hour longer.

On October 6, 2013, the military told HaMoked that its representatives had “mapped, in collaboration with the (Shu’fat) camp committee, all the divided families living inside Jerusalem city limits, on the other side of the fence … with the aim of allowing these residents to routinely cross at Shu’fat Checkpoint”. HaMoked responded that the mapping process and the collaboration with the camp committee was complicated and unnecessary considering the Ministry of Interior already has detailed information about where residents live, as it requires solid proof of center-of-life in Israel for continued issuance of stay permits.

On March 20, 2014, after no appropriate response was received for almost 18 months (!), HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice to instruct the military to allow Palestinians who hold Israeli stay permits given as part of the family unification procedure and live inside Jerusalem, east of the wall, to enter Israel through Shu’fat Checkpoint. HaMoked repeated the arguments made in its letters to the military, arguing that the decision was disproportionate and unreasonable and that it severely violated Palestinians’ rights. HaMoked stressed that the solution offered by the military – “mapping” residents of the area and allowing passage through the checkpoint according to lists managed by the Shu’fat Refugee Camp Committee – was unnecessary, complicated and inappropriate. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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