Not sick enough? Only following HaMoked’s petition, the military allowed three sisters to enter Gaza to visit their brother after open-heart surgery
As part of Israel’s strategy to isolate the Gaza Strip, Israel has long been pursuing a policy aimed at cutting off the links
between Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and Israel and their relatives who live in Gaza. Israel will only consider requests of Israelis to enter Gaza for what it defines as an “exceptional humanitarian need”: participation in a wedding or funeral of an immediate relative, or a visit to a severely-ill immediate relative – when the patient’s life is in danger or when prolonged hospitalization is necessary. This creates an intolerable situation where children, parents, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren are prevented from seeing each other for long periods of time, even for years.
Often, even in exceptional humanitarian cases which meet the stipulated criteria, HaMoked has to petition the court to compel the military to approve the urgent visit. Thus in the case of three sisters who live with their families in the area of Beersheba, Israel, who sought to visit their hospitalized brother in the Gaza Strip. The brother underwent bypass and open-heart surgery on December 3, 2019, and was kept anesthetized and ventilated in an intensive care unit.
A few days before the scheduled surgery, on November 28, 2019, one of the sisters requested, via HaMoked, that the military allow her to enter Gaza to visit her brother. This request went unanswered, despite reminders by HaMoked. A second sister, whose request was filed the day before the brother’s surgery, received the military’s response on December 9 2019: her request was denied “in light of the fact that the medical condition of the patient does not meet the criteria”. On the day of the surgery, HaMoked filed a visit request on behalf of the third sister, who, being handicapped, also asked that her son be permitted to accompany her and assist her on the journey. Her request was also denied on December 9, 2019, on the same grounds.
Therefore, on December 12, 2019, HaMoked filed an urgent petition to the High Court of Justice (HCJ), to demand the sisters be allowed to visit their brother, who was still in a life-threatening condition.
In its response of December 15, 2019 – submitted on the eve of the court hearing – the military notified that the petitioners’ “updated” requests met the criteria and were being considered by security officials. During the hearing held on the following day, the military approved the visit of two of the sisters and announced that the visit of the handicapped sister and her son would be approved subject to a security check. The mother and son’s visit was approved later that day.