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Under orders from the High Court of Justice, the Defense Ministry recently drafted regulations requiring all the relevant bodies - the Israel Defense Forces, the Civil Administration and the Shin Bet security service - to respond within a reasonable time frame to Palestinians' requests for travel permits.

The regulations, which were issued on June 27, require permit requests to be answered at least five days before the scheduled trip, as long as the request was submitted at least 14 days beforehand. To date, many Palestinians who have requested travel permits have received no response.

The regulations were formulated pursuant to a High Court ruling issued about a year ago on a petition by nine lawyers from Gaza who had been invited to a professional seminar in the West Bank. The attorneys applied for travel permits well in advance and followed up with dozens of letters and telephone calls, but never received a response to their applications. For a year, the ruling was ignored, prompting additional petitions to the court over other incidents. Finally, a Gaza resident whose request for permission to visit a sister in an Israeli hospital was ignored - the court ordered the ministry to submit appropriate regulations to it by June 14.