HaMoked in an urgent petition to the HCJ: Israeli women whose center of life is in Gaza must be allowed to return to their spouses and children living there
During February and March 2020, HaMoked sent requests to the military on behalf of several Palestinian women – Israeli citizens and residents – who are married to men from the Gaza Strip and live with them there (because under Israeli policy, Gazans cannot take part in family unification procedures in Israel). These women left Gaza to visit relatives in Israel before the coronavirus crisis, and have been unable to return to their homes in Gaza ever since, because of the closure imposed on Gaza in mid-March in an effort to curb the pandemic. In the framework of the closure, the entry of Israelis into Gaza has been banned, except for the most exceptional cases. And therefore the military announced a freeze on processing Gaza-entry requests made under the “divided families” procedure
– implemented for over two decades to enable Israelis married to Gazans to maintain their family life.
Following the sweeping decision not to allow entry to Gaza, the women – some along with their minor children – have been forced to remain with their relatives, far from their spouses and children and their center of life in Gaza. The harm to these families is particularly severe given the ominous pandemic situation, and, because the women are away from home during the observances of the month of Ramadan, which has just begun and concludes with the ‘Eid al-Fitr holiday.
In April 19, 2020, in response to a petition by Israeli human rights organization Gisha (HCJ 2442/20), Israel committed to a framework to approve Israelis’ requests to return to their Gaza homes. The framework, given the High Court of Justice’s seal of approval, allows return to Gaza during the health emergency period, subject to a signed declaration and undertaking to self-isolate according to the regulations if the signatory opts to reenter Israel while the closure is still in force.
In spite of this commitment, HaMoked’s requests, sent as of April 22, 2020, to apply the framework to these women (as well as others aided by HaMoked), remained without a substantive response, despite the fact the initial requests to return to Gaza were sent over six weeks earlier. Therefore, on May 5, 2020, HaMoked urgently petitioned the High Court of Justice to demand the women and children be immediately allowed to return to their homes and families in Gaza.