In the beginning of the month of Ramadan which ends with the Id al-Fitr holiday, HaMoked contacted the army requesting it cease its policy of the last two years of preventing Palestinians from Israel to visit their relatives in Gaza during the holiday. The arguments raised by the army to justify its refusal to allow the visits are concerns regarding the safety of Israelis who enter the Gaza Strip and concerns that permits might be used to provide services to hostile elements.
In its appeal to the GOC Southern Command, HaMoked stresses that this policy infringes upon the family lives of these Israeli residents and citizens, and their relatives, who do not see their families for extended periods of times, being forcibly cut off. HaMoked reminded the army that this policy patently contravenes the state’s obligation to safeguard the rights of its citizens and residents to family life and freedom of religion. This duty is valid even if the relatives of those residents and citizens live in the Gaza Strip.
HaMoked further stresses that this policy is contrary to prior undertakings given by the state before the High Court of Justice in the framework of petitions filed by HaMoked on the same matter. Under these undertakings, residents and citizens of Israel wishing to visit immediate relatives in the Gaza Strip during the holidays would be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip along with their spouses and children under 18 years old, subject to the absence of an individual security preclusion.
HaMoked emphasizes that the arguments raised by the army regarding a need to prohibit Israelis from visiting the Gaza Strip due to concerns regarding their safety as well as concerns that the permits may be used to provide services to hostile elements are inconsistent with the fact that even after the Hamas takeover of security apparatuses in Gaza, when the army narrowed the criteria for granting permits to enter the Gaza Strip to Israelis to humanitarian cases only, it still continued to allow holiday visits.
Preventing holiday visits, HaMoked claims, is an act of collective punishment and the army should allow the visits as it has in the past.