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Following HaMoked’s petition: the military allows a son who turned 18 to enter Gaza in order to meet his father one last time

Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who are married to Israeli residents or citizens cannot live in Israel with their spouses due to the restrictions of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law and the sweeping prohibition on family unification procedures with Gazans. The Israeli spouses and children must, therefore, divide their lives between Israel and Gaza, and must seek the military’s permission each time they want to enter Gaza to visit the father of the family. However, the military procedure regulating the entry to Gaza of ‘divided families”, does not apply to children over age 18. Once they turn of age, Israel prevents the children of divided families from visiting their fathers in Gaza, and only allows their entry in special humanitarian circumstances, such as the father’s severe illness or death, or alternatively, a wedding of an immediate relative.

Following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, a complete closure was imposed on Gaza, and the entry of Israelis was sweepingly banned, including by members of “divided families”, pursuant to the Minister of Interior’s decision of April 1, 2020. Only several weeks later, as a result of separate petitions filed by Gisha and HaMoked on behalf of Israeli women married to Gazans, did Israel resume visits to Gaza under the “divided families” procedure.

But among the children belonging to these families, some came of age during the freeze on handling Gaza-entry requests in the framework of the procedure. In one case, HaMoked had to turn to the courts in order to enable a boy who turned 18 in March 2020, to visit his father one last time. During February, in advance of his birthday, HaMoked repeatedly tried to coordinate the boy’s visit to Gaza with the military ahead of his birthday. But all requests were left unanswered, even though they clearly stated the urgency of the matter – allowing a last meeting between a son and a father.

HaMoked’s general letter to the military, requesting that children who turned 18 during the Coronavirus crisis be allowed one last visit to Gaza, received only a formalistic response. The response of June 10, 2020, stated that “the passage of minors in the framework of the “divided-families” criterion is enabled until the age of 18. Insofar as an adult wishes to leave for the Gaza Strip, they must submit an individual request.”. HaMoked’s “individual request” on behalf of the youth was rejected on June 22, 2020.

Therefore, on July 12, 2020, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice to allow the boy’s entry to Gaza, so he could meet his father one final time. In the petition, HaMoked argued that the military had not properly weighed all the relevant considerations in such a clear humanitarian case, and that in denying the permit request, the military in fact condemned the boy “never to meet his father again”.

Following the petition, on August 3, 2020, the military allowed the boy to enter Gaza for four months, "beyond legal requirements and given the special circumstances of the case”. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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