HCJ 4064/14 Akhlas Sayel Mustafa A-Shatiyeh v. Commander of IDF Forces in the West Bank

Until 2013, Palestinians whose property was seized at border crossings and later confiscated could appeal to the military courts in the West Bank to reclaim it. However, Amendment 36 to the Order Regarding Security Provisions in the West Bank determines that the confiscation of property cannot be appealed. In effect, the only choice left for Palestinian residents is to petition the High Court of Justice (HCJ) every time, even though the cost of the petition exceeds the value of the property or the money confiscated, and even though the financial and physical barriers involved in petitioning the HCJ deny Palestinian residents from accessing the courts.

In June 2014, a young Palestinian woman petitioned the HCJ with the assistance of Yesh Din after two months earlier, on her way back from a conference in Jordan, she was detained at the Allenby Crossing.

After an interrogation that lasted eight hours, the funds she had on her were confiscated, on the claim that it belongs to a “forbidden association.” This, despite the fact that she presented receipts showing some of the money was travel expenditure received, and that the rest was given to her by her mother in order to purchase gifts in Amman. The guards at the crossing refused to leave her and her sister who was traveling with her enough money to return home.

In the petition, Yesh Din not only demanded all the money be returned to the petitioner, but also to annul Amendment 36, which forces Palestinians to petition the HCJ instead of holding a hearing in a regular military court. The HCJ held a hearing in the matter jointly with two other petitions.

in January 2016 the court ruled that the confiscation procedure from terror suspects is legal, however the justices determined that the army commander in the West Bank must establish a mechanism for challenging or appealing decisions to confiscate property within the framework of the military courts, and to update the court within four months time. The court accepted Yesh Din’s request to postpone a hearing in the specific confiscation files until the State provides an update on the establishment of this mechanism.

In May 2017, the state presented to the HCJ an order for the establishment of a committee that would review appeals against property confiscation and make recommendations to the military commander on whether to return it. The High Court dismissed Yesh Din’s arguments that the committee, which is not an independent forum, would change nothing and that Palestinians wishing to appeal a decision to confiscate their property would still have to file petitions to the High Court of Justice. “It seems to us that one can hope that the committee would provide a fair and appropriate response to the need for an appeal process even if its work is defined as a ‘recommendation’”, the judgment said, “The commander of the Area would, presumably, accept what the committee says, except for very rare cases”.

Petition Status: The petition was dismissed.