Following HaMoked’s petition: the military allowed an East Jerusalem resident to enter Gaza to mourn her father with her mother and siblings
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.
Thus in the case of a woman originally from Gaza who has been living in Jerusalem since her marriage in 1989. Due to Israel’s policy regarding Gaza, the woman had not met her parents and siblings for the past 12 years. On Friday, December 11, 2020, her father passed away and was buried on the following day, according to the dictates of his faith. On Sunday, HaMoked applied to the military on the woman’s behalf to request to allow her entry to Gaza to participate in the mourning rites and be with her mother at this difficult time. The request was sent with copies of the father’s death notice and certificate. In the absence of a reply in such an urgent request, HaMoked phoned the military later that day, only to be told the request was denied and that there were no soldiers available to go over the incoming emails and approve receipt of HaMoked’s request. Two days later, HaMoked sent another request, describing the denial given by telephone, which was clearly decided upon without the request having been examined beforehand. That same day HaMoked received an email from the military, requesting the death notice be sent once more, in “a clear and readable manner”. HaMoked did so. On the following day, despite the humanitarian nature of the case and urgency involved, the military answered that the request was being processed.
Therefore, on December 17, 2020, almost a week after the father’s passing, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to allow the entry into Gaza of the woman seeking to duly mourn for her father in the company of her family. In the petition, HaMoked noted that a few days earlier, in the framework of HCJ 8510/20 – a petition filed by Gisha to demand an Israeli citizen be allowed to enter Gaza to mourn his mother, after the military refused his request allegedly due to the Coronavirus situation – the court issued an order nisi directing the state to explain the refusal, after it was established that people were being allowed into Gaza for mourning and other reasons. It should be noted that a few hours after HaMoked filed its petition, the military sent another refusal (dated 15.12.2020), similarly explained on Coronavirus grounds.
On December 20, 2020, and even before a hearing was scheduled, the state responded that “following reconsideration, it was decided to approve the petitioner’s request to leave for the Gaza Strip in order to participate in mourning for her father’s death, subject to an individual security check”.
HaMoked was left to wonder why it was forced to petition the court – and not for the first time – in such an obvious humanitarian case.