The Supreme Court of Israel Dismisses Adalah’s Petition against the IDF for Prohibiting Palestinian Arab Citizens of Israel from Entering the West Bank


On 12 April 2000, the Supreme Court of Israel dismissed Adalah’s petition, filed on behalf of Mr. Mahmoud Mahameed, a 22 year-old Palestinian Arab citizen of Israel, challenging the IDF’s order preventing him from entering the West Bank for six months. The Court ruled that the military authorities’ followed valid legal procedure in issuing the order, and that it had no reason to intervene in their decision. 

Adalah Advocates Hassan Jabareen and Orna Kohn submitted the petition in March 2000, requesting that the order be cancelled.  Mr. Mahameed, from Umm El-Fahem, recently received his B.A. from Al-Najah University, and was accepted to a Masters Degree program in Contemporary Arab Studies at Bir Zeit University beginning in March 2000. There is no Arab University in Israel, and Israeli Universities do not offer this degree. 

First, Adalah Advocate Hassan Jabareen argued, on behalf of Mr. Mahameed at a hearing before the Court, that the arbitrary process for issuing these prohibition orders denied Mr. Mahameed his right to a fair hearing and his right to be heard.  Mr. Jabareen stressed that there was no judicial tribunal available to Mr. Mahameed to challenge the facts and reasons underlying the prohibition order.  The Supreme Court is not the appropriate forum, as its role is to decide upon legal issues, making no inquiry into the facts as claimed by the State. 

Second, Mr. Jabareen also argued that the IDF’s sole reliance on “secret evidence” unconstitutionally violates the due process rights of the petitioner, as he is denied any opportunity to confront the evidence against him.  He stressed that the Court did not examine this “secret evidence.”  Moreover, Mr. Mahameed has never been investigated, arrested or convicted by the authorities on any matter related to any criminal or national security offense, or in relation to this order. 

Third, Mr. Jabareen argued that there must be a judicial determination on “probable danger” before such an order can be issued, and that no such process had taken place in this case. If Mr. Mahameed posed such a danger, why could he walk free in Haifa or Tel Aviv or in this Court, but be banned from studying at Bir Zeit University. 

The sole explanation offered by the State, on behalf of the IDF Chief Commander for issuing the prohibition order against Mr. Mahameed, is that Mr. Mahameed is suspected of being a member of a political, student wing of Hamas. According to the State, the IDF Chief Commander relied on undisclosed “security reasons” for prohibiting Mr. Mahameed from entering the West Bank. 

At the hearing, the Court accepted the claims of the military authorities without question. The Court also noted that the order amounted to a minimum intrusion on Mr. Mahameed’s freedom of movement rights, and, as such, was justified.  The Court distinguished between an order of this nature, and administrative detention, a much harsher measure.