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Visits by Israelis to the Gaza Strip: the case of GA
documents: 0  |  Updates: 4 As part of its efforts to isolate the Gaza Strip, Israel adopted a policy of restricting the freedom of movement between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The policy was toughened with the outbreak of the second intifada, and as part of it, Israel rejected applications of Israelis who sought to enter Gaza for whatever reason, including for family visits, participation in family celebrations or even taking care of a relative. Applications to enter Gaza were not examined according to their merits but only under obscure unpublicised military criteria, which were often changed. Thus was in the case of GA.

GA, married and a father of four, is a resident in Jerusalem and an employee of the city municipality. He had lived most of his life in the Gaza Strip where he was born. In the mid-90s, he received his residency status in Jerusalem following his marriage to a resident of the city. His mother, widowed and chronically ill, lives alone in Gaza. Following intense efforts by HaMoked, GA managed to visit his mother in late 2002, and again in May 2003. Four months later, HaMoked again applied to the military to allow GA to enter Gaza to visit his mother, but this time the military refused, claiming simply that the application “does not meet the criteria” – which, as stated, have never been published. Therefore, in November 2003, HaMoked petition the High Court of Justice (HCJ) on GA’s behalf.

The petition challenged the state’s claim that the ban on entry of Israelis to Gaza stemmed from the concern that they might come to harm at the hands of Gaza Palestinians. This claim was not founded on any actual occurrence where a Palestinian with Israeli status had been attacked in Gaza because of his/her Israeli identity card while visiting relatives in Gaza. The petition asserted that the state’s concern was therefore only speculative and did not represent reality.

Following the petition, the military decided to allow GA to enter Gaza to visit his mother. In the framework of its response to the petition, submitted in August 2004, the state formulated its policy on the entry of Israelis to Gaza. Under this policy, the threshold conditions for entry of Israelis to Gaza are: the absence of a security impediment and the existence of exceptional humanitarian circumstances (wedding, engagement, severe illness, funeral, etc.). When both conditions are met, a person may enter Gaza to visit an immediate relative living there. It is also stipulated that a person who receives such a permit, may bring along on the visit his/her children who are under 18, and that once a year, a visit during one of the religious holidays is allowed, in the absence of an individual security preclusion.

Despite the express policy, time has shown that in practice, since the Hamas takeover of the security apparatuses in Gaza in June 2007, the military has been preventing Israelis from visiting Gaza during the holidays, and places obstacles before those who are otherwise entitled to receive entry permits. Additionally, it seems that the examination of applications under the criteria is rather inconsistent, as demonstrated by GA’s case: since the petition on his behalf was deleted, HaMoked has had to petition the court twice more to enable GA to visit his ailing mother in Gaza.

The military rejected all of HaMoked's applications to allow Israeli residents and citizens to visit their relatives in the Gaza Strip during Id al-Fitr: HaMoked demands the decision be reconsidered in light of the GOC Southern Commander's recommendation to approve the holiday visits
HaMoked to the GOC Southern Command: in view of Gilad Shalit's release, family visits by Israelis to Gaza during Id al-Adha should be resumed
HaMoked petitions the High Court of Justice to allow visits to the Gaza Strip during the upcoming Id al-Fitr: The state must stop severing family ties between Israel’s residents and citizens and their relatives in the Gaza Strip
New arrangement regarding family visits to the Gaza Strip: following petitions filed by HaMoked, the military promised to allow Israelis to enter the Gaza Strip and visit their relatives of the first degree for the holidays, provided there are no security reasons for denying the approval (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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