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The army has promised that Palestinians from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip who apply for entry permits to Israel will be informed of its decision no later than five days before the requested date, the Israeli NGO Gisha said on Sunday.
The new procedure was released earlier this month by the coordinator of government activities in the administered territories in the wake of a petition submitted to the High Court of Justice last year by human rights groups and Palestinians lawyers.
The petitioners had said that the IDF often delayed responding to applications for entry permits, issued almost exclusively on humanitarian grounds, until just before, or even after, the travel date requested. When the army gave a negative answer at the last minute, it was too late for the applicant to appeal the decision, the petitioners had charged.
According to the coordinator of activities, the new procedure applies to requests to enter Israel for "participation in events with pre-determined and rigid dates."
Requests for entry permits must be submitted to the District Coordination Office 14 business days prior to the date of the requested entrance and the army undertakes to respond no later than five business days prior to the date.
The petitioners included nine lawyers from the Gaza Strip, the Belgian nonprofit organization Lawyers without Borders, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Adalah-the Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Gisha.
On June 28, 2006, the High Court took note of the state's response to the petition in which it promised to answer entry requests no later than three days before the requested travel date, as long as they were filed a reasonable time in advance. The court instructed the state to provide the answer to the applicant within five to seven days.
Gisha said the army had not implemented the court's ruling. During the past year, Gisha filed three High Court petitions on behalf of Palestinians who had asked for permission to enter Israel and had not received their answers on time.