HaMoked petitions the High Court of Justice to allow two children to return to their father's home in Qalqiliya המוקד להגנת הפרט
HaMoked petitions the High Court of Justice to allow two children to return to their father's home in Qalqiliya
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In recent years Israel has been routinely expelling Palestinian residents of the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, based on their registration with a Gaza address in the Israeli copy of the Palestinian population registry. This despite the fact it has no authority to do so under both international law and the military legislation.

Furthermore, Israel prevents Palestinians who are registered with a Gaza address to return to the West Bank after a visit to the Gaza Strip. It is worth noting that Israel froze all changes of address from Gaza to the West Bank with the start of the second Intifada, despite receiving updates on address changes from the Palestinian Authority, as stipulated in the Oslo Accords.

Israel qualified its policy before the High Court of Justice (HCJ), stating it will not expel to Gaza anyone who entered the West Bank before 2000 and against whom there is no negative security information.

In 1991, the A.S. family relocated to Qalqilyia in the West Bank. Three years later, the couple separated. The paternal grandmother also moved to Qalqiliya to assist the father, who is the petitioner, to raise his children. In 2004 the father was arrested and served 18 months in prison for illegal presence in Israel. During his imprisonment, the grandmother cared for her two grandchildren in Qalqiliya, until circumstances necessitated her return to her home in Gaza, taking along both grandchildren.

Following the petitioner’s release home to Qalqiliya, he remarried and gained employment. However, his efforts to bring his children back home were in vain. His son, turned adult, also started submitting formal requests to allow both his minor sister and himself to rejoin their father, none of them was answered. Only HaMoked's appeal to the humanitarian desk in the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO), resulted in a letter of rejection, stating the request "does not meet the criteria".

On March 8, 2010, HaMoked petitioned the HCJ on behalf of the father and children who wish to reunite as a family in their Qalqiliya home. The petition was founded on the state's duty to guarantee the normal life of the residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, uphold their right to family life and act in a child's best interests. As President Aharon Barak ruled in the case of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (the Adalah judgment) - "The family relationship and the protection of the family and its basic elements (the spouses and their children) lie at the basis of Israeli law".

In its response, the state requested to dismiss the petition due to the family members’ address in Israeli records, since Israeli policy disallows "relocation of residence" of Palestinians from Gaza to the West Bank, except in "exceptional humanitarian cases".

The state also charged that the children did not make earlier attempts to gain permits to rejoin their father, and so effectively they chose, at the age of 12 and 14, to settle in Gaza. The state's response suggests that the state attorney's office claims the authority to decide that the time the children spent in Gaza brought about a substantial change "regarding the extent of the petitioners' ties to Judea and Samaria", or, put otherwise, weakened the bond between the children and their father.

Lastly, the state attorney's office announced that since the daughter is underage, the state permits her, ex gratia, to return to her father, with just a provisional permit. This offer is particularly cynical, separating between the sister and brother, when he is her legal guardian, especially considering that under Israeli regulations, when she comes of age, she will, most likely, be forced to relocate to Gaza and be separated yet again from her father. 

Israel's refusal to allow the children to return home is not only illegal, but also contradicts the state's own policy as proclaimed before the HCJ. As stated, the family has been living in Qalqiliya since 1991, and the girl was born there. However and despite the lack of security preclusions, the children are confined to Gaza ever since they were temporarily taken there as result of difficulties during their father's incarceration. HaMoked repeatedly discovers that Israeli declarations before the court regarding its willingness to allow those who meet certain criteria to return home are not evident outside the courtroom.

At the time of writing, the petition is still pending.
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