The military refused to allow a Palestinian woman to visit her sick father in Gaza on the claim that her status in the West Bank had never been arranged: the court has ruled that the woman must apply for a West Bank stay permit, as if she were a tourist המוקד להגנת הפרט عر HE wheel chair icon
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01.05.2014
The military refused to allow a Palestinian woman to visit her sick father in Gaza on the claim that her status in the West Bank had never been arranged: the court has ruled that the woman must apply for a West Bank stay permit, as if she were a tourist
The military refused to allow a Palestinian woman to visit her sick father in Gaza on the claim that her status in the West Bank had never been arranged: the court has ruled that the woman must apply for a West Bank stay permit, as if she were a tourist
For many years, Israel has been implementing a stern policy of separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and allowing travel in only one direction – to Gaza. Permits to visit the West Bank are rarely issued; permanent relocation to the West Bank is nearly impossible; even people who moved to the West Bank in the stipulated manner years ago and have made it their permanent home, still encounter numerous difficulties imposed by Israel.

In 2000, a Palestinian woman from the Gaza Strip married a man from the West Bank and moved to live with him there. The woman visited Gaza several times in the following years: the soldiers at Erez Crossing allowed her to enter Gaza because the address in her ID card was in Gaza; when she sought to go back to the West Bank, she was always given the requisite permit, often following HaMoked's intervention. All her applications to have her address listing changed in the population registry were repeatedly rejected on the claim that the Israeli side did not allow such change. HaMoked, highly familiar with Israel's express policy on this matter, has challenged this practice several times in the High Court of Justice (HCJ).

On January 12, 2014, HaMoked wrote to the military requesting the woman and her two children be allowed to travel from the West Bank to Gaza to visit her sick father. The military refused and added that since the woman was registered as a Gaza resident and was staying in the West Bank without a permit, she should leave the West Bank immediately. Recall, for close to 15 years, the woman has been living in the West bank with her husband and raising her children there, and she had arrived at the West Bank in the stipulated manner.

On February 5, 2014, HaMoked petitioned the HCJ to instruct the military to allow the woman to travel from the West Bank to Gaza with her children, to visit her sick father. HaMoked asserted that the military's claim that the woman was illegally present in the West Bank should be dismissed, given that she had moved to the West Bank back in 2000 in the framework of the "safe passage", and had never been required to obtain a permit for the purpose; and also given that over the years the military itself had many times approved the woman's return from Gaza to the West Bank; and that, in any event, the woman belonged to the category of Palestinians who had moved from Gaza to the West Bank prior to 2005 – whom Israel had undertaken not to expel from the west Bank. HaMoked argued that the military's refusal violated the woman's rights to family life and to freedom of movement. On the level of principle, HaMoked condemned labelling as an "illegal alien" a woman who was living with her family in her own home and country.

In its response, the state reiterated the military's position that the woman was illegally staying in the West Bank. The state argued that in fact, the woman could leave for Gaza at any time – but there was no guarantee that she would be allowed to return to the West Bank, her home. The state suggested two alternate courses for "legalizing her status in the Area" – filing an application for "settlement" in the West Bank pursuant to the "settlement procedure", or applying for a temporary permit for staying in the West Bank. Lastly, the state noted that the health condition of the father and also the mother – who had also grown ill by that time – was not severe enough to warrant approval of the visit.

HaMoked countered that the issue of the woman's status in the West Bank should be separated from the urgent necessity to allow her to visit Gaza and return home at the end of the visit. HaMoked recalled that the state had already allowed visits to Gaza by people who were in the exact same predicament as the petitioner, and argued that the attempt to require that the woman undergo the "settlement procedure" or obtain a West Bank temporary stay permit – both options object of intense legal debate – was an unacceptable step, which failed to take into account the urgency of the woman's request.

On April 7, 2014, at the conclusion of the hearing, the court determined that the woman must apply for a temporary stay permit in order to receive a travel permit to Gaza. The court ruled that the woman should supply the required documents within 10 days, whereupon, the military was to announce its decision as to both the West Bank stay permit and the permit to travel to Gaza, within 30 days from the time of submission.

HaMoked considers the HCJ's decision to be a grave violation of the rights of both the woman and her children. The demand that the woman obtain a temporary stay permit as a condition for her continuing her life in the West Bank – as if she were a tourist, and moreover, linking this issue with her visit to her sick father in Gaza, are unacceptable steps. HaMoked calls on the State of Israel to renew travel between Gaza and the West Bank – which constitute a single territorial unit – and to allow Palestinians to exercise their right to freely choose where they wish to live.
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For many years, Israel has been implementing a stern policy of separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and allowing travel in only one direction – to Gaza. Permits to visit the West Bank are rarely issued; permanent relocation to the West Bank is nearly impossible; even people who moved to the West Bank in the stipulated manner years ago and have made it their permanent home, still encounter numerous difficulties imposed by Israel.

In 2000, a Palestinian woman from the Gaza Strip married a man from the West Bank and moved to live with him there. The woman visited Gaza several times in the following years: the soldiers at Erez Crossing allowed her to enter Gaza because the address in her ID card was in Gaza; when she sought to go back to the West Bank, she was always given the requisite permit, often following HaMoked's intervention. All her applications to have her address listing changed in the population registry were repeatedly rejected on the claim that the Israeli side did not allow such change. HaMoked, highly familiar with Israel's express policy on this matter, has challenged this practice several times in the High Court of Justice (HCJ).

On January 12, 2014, HaMoked wrote to the military requesting the woman and her two children be allowed to travel from the West Bank to Gaza to visit her sick father. The military refused and added that since the woman was registered as a Gaza resident and was staying in the West Bank without a permit, she should leave the West Bank immediately. Recall, for close to 15 years, the woman has been living in the West bank with her husband and raising her children there, and she had arrived at the West Bank in the stipulated manner.

On February 5, 2014, HaMoked petitioned the HCJ to instruct the military to allow the woman to travel from the West Bank to Gaza with her children, to visit her sick father. HaMoked asserted that the military's claim that the woman was illegally present in the West Bank should be dismissed, given that she had moved to the West Bank back in 2000 in the framework of the "safe passage", and had never been required to obtain a permit for the purpose; and also given that over the years the military itself had many times approved the woman's return from Gaza to the West Bank; and that, in any event, the woman belonged to the category of Palestinians who had moved from Gaza to the West Bank prior to 2005 – whom Israel had undertaken not to expel from the west Bank. HaMoked argued that the military's refusal violated the woman's rights to family life and to freedom of movement. On the level of principle, HaMoked condemned labelling as an "illegal alien" a woman who was living with her family in her own home and country.

In its response, the state reiterated the military's position that the woman was illegally staying in the West Bank. The state argued that in fact, the woman could leave for Gaza at any time – but there was no guarantee that she would be allowed to return to the West Bank, her home. The state suggested two alternate courses for "legalizing her status in the Area" – filing an application for "settlement" in the West Bank pursuant to the "settlement procedure", or applying for a temporary permit for staying in the West Bank. Lastly, the state noted that the health condition of the father and also the mother – who had also grown ill by that time – was not severe enough to warrant approval of the visit.

HaMoked countered that the issue of the woman's status in the West Bank should be separated from the urgent necessity to allow her to visit Gaza and return home at the end of the visit. HaMoked recalled that the state had already allowed visits to Gaza by people who were in the exact same predicament as the petitioner, and argued that the attempt to require that the woman undergo the "settlement procedure" or obtain a West Bank temporary stay permit – both options object of intense legal debate – was an unacceptable step, which failed to take into account the urgency of the woman's request.

On April 7, 2014, at the conclusion of the hearing, the court determined that the woman must apply for a temporary stay permit in order to receive a travel permit to Gaza. The court ruled that the woman should supply the required documents within 10 days, whereupon, the military was to announce its decision as to both the West Bank stay permit and the permit to travel to Gaza, within 30 days from the time of submission.

HaMoked considers the HCJ's decision to be a grave violation of the rights of both the woman and her children. The demand that the woman obtain a temporary stay permit as a condition for her continuing her life in the West Bank – as if she were a tourist, and moreover, linking this issue with her visit to her sick father in Gaza, are unacceptable steps. HaMoked calls on the State of Israel to renew travel between Gaza and the West Bank – which constitute a single territorial unit – and to allow Palestinians to exercise their right to freely choose where they wish to live.
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