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Administrative Seizure Order Issued against Goods Destined for the Gaza Strip

The Counter-Terrorism Law, enacted in 2016, authorizes the Israeli Ministry of Defense to seize goods if it suspects they are intended for the execution of terrorist offenses or the use of terrorist organizations. After a temporary period of administrative seizure, the seizure may be made permanent, in which case the goods become the property of the State of Israel. Pursuant to this law, the Ministry of Defense seizes dozens of goods intended to enter the Gaza Strip every year, claiming that they are destined to reach the hands of the terrorist organizations operating there.

In one case taken on by Adv. Michal Luft, the Ministry of Defense seized a shipment of printing paper, which was on route to the Gaza Strip. The Ministry of Defense claimed that the paper was destined to reach a printing house engaged with Hamas and that, therefore, it was within its right to seize the paper. Shortly after the seizure order was issued, and even before the intended recipients of the goods had the opportunity to appeal, the Ministry of Defense issued a press release in which it described the printing house as a "Hamas printery" and a company that provides services to the military division of Hamas. This announcement was published in Arabic, Hebrew and English, and caused significant damages to the printing house's reputation. Predictably, an internal appeal filed by Adv. Michal Luft against the seizure was rejected by the Ministry of Defense shortly thereafter.

Following the rejection of the appeal, Adv. Michal Luft submitted an administrative petition to the District Court in Tel Aviv challenging the Ministry of Defense's seizure. The petition claimed that the paper was intended for civilian use and not for the commission of any terrorist offense (God forbid). It was also argued that the Ministry of Defense is not authorized to seize property unless there is a well-founded concern that the property itself would be misused.

Soon after the submission of the petition, the Ministry of Defense retracted its decision and decided to release the entire shipment of paper to its designated owners in the Gaza Strip. In addition, the ministry deleted the seizure order and all references to the printing house from the press releases published on its website. Finally, the District Court also ordered the Ministry of Defense to pay the petitioners NIS 2,500 in legal expenses.


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