COGAT Forced to Publish Criteria for Movement of People between Israel and Palestinian Territories

Following a court petition submitted by the NGO Gisha – Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement, under the Freedom of Information Act, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has been compelled to publish the protocols and procedures governing its operations.

Israel’s control over the movement of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory is codified in military legislation enforced by the Israeli army in the West Bank, and in civilian legislation applying to residents of the Gaza Strip. Pursuant to these laws, Israel has established procedures and protocols restricting the movement of both people and goods within the Palestinian territory. To travel, or to coordinate movement of goods, Palestinians must submit permit applications to Israeli authorities and receive their approval. Israel’s control over and restriction of Palestinians’ freedom of movement violates their fundamental rights to family life, health, education, religious worship, and more.

A woman waiting at the Palestinian side of Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel

A woman waiting at the Palestinian side of Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel
(Photo: Asmaa Elkhaldi)

The procedures issued by the authorities shape the lives of Palestinians both in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. They determine, for example, the criteria one needs to meet in order to request a permit to visit a sick relative, attend a family celebration, relocate, take up academic studies, participate in professional training, or to receive a permit to work in Israel, import and export goods and much, much more. The great volume of procedures is indicative of Israel’s ongoing and extensive control over the lives of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

The criteria set by Israel for Palestinians’ travel to and from Gaza via Erez Crossing are particularly narrow, and any change made to them directly impacts the lives of countless people. All criteria set by Israeli authorities for the movement of Palestinians to and from Gaza, the West Bank, Israel, and abroad, are listed in a document called Unclassified Status of Authorizations for the Entry of Palestinians into Israel, their Passage between Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip and their Travel Abroad. The document is updated every so often by COGAT and periodically translated into English by Gisha for the benefit of the English-speaking public. It is not published officially in English or Arabic.

The most recent dates on which Israel published updated versions of the “Status of Authorizations” document were May 6 and August 27, 2019. Linked in the bottom of this page are Gisha’s translation to English of the August update to the document and the review of some of the criteria that were adjusted by Israel, reflecting slight changes in Israel’s policy toward the Gaza Strip since the beginning of 2019.