Center for the Defence of the Individual - The HCJ rejected the petition of HaMoked and Gisha to allow Israelis over 18 to maintain regular family life with their parents living in Gaza
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חזרה לעמוד הקודם

The HCJ rejected the petition of HaMoked and Gisha to allow Israelis over 18 to maintain regular family life with their parents living in Gaza

Israel severely restricts freedom of movement in and out of the Gaza Strip, causing immense hardship. The closure policy has uniquely harsh implications for families where one spouse is a resident of Gaza and the other an Israeli citizen or resident. On a sweeping security pretext, Israel almost completely denies its citizens and residents who are over age 18 from fulfilling the right to family life with the Gaza parent (usually the father). Israeli minors are allowed regular visits to the parent in Gaza, accompanying the Israeli parent (usually the mother) or to live there with both parents, subject to the military procedure known as the “divided families” procedure. But once they turn 18, Israel prevents the children of these “divided families” from living with their family in Gaza or even visiting their Gaza parent. They can only get a permit in special humanitarian circumstances (in cases of death, severe illness, or wedding of an immediate family member). In the case of children who were living in Gaza, the procedure spells their effective expulsion from their home and familiar surroundings once they come of age, unless they choose to remain in Gaza without a military permit, contrary to Israeli law, with various repercussions. The fathers themselves cannot live in Israel with their Israeli spouses and children nor visit them except in exceptional cases, due to the restrictions of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, reenacted in 2022. Thus, Israel’s policy forces many Israelis to separate from their father just as they reach adulthood, knowing there is a very real and tragic possibility that they might never meet again. This is a cruel and disproportionate infringement of the basic constitutional right to family life, the foundation of human society, with the relationship between parents and children at its core.

Therefore, on November 22, 2021, HaMoked and Gisha filed a principled petition to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to demand the “divided families” procedure be amended to protect the basic right of Israeli residents and citizens to regular family life with their Gaza parents also after they become adults, except where it is precluded for individual security reasons.

But on January 5, 2023, the HCJ dismissed the petition following a court hearing, during which the State presented ex parte an undisclosed security opinion on the matter. In a short judgment written by Justice Barak-Erez, the HCJ ruled that the matter does not justify the Court’s intervention according to the rules of administrative jurisprudence. The Court laconically addressed the tragic predicament of the families, noting that “there is no escape from the conclusion that their lives… are hard and riddled with obstacles”, but ruled that “the decision on the matter lies at the core of the discretion on guarding the security of the State and its foreign relations…”.  In conclusion, the Court urged the State to act on its claim whereby it periodically reviews the “possibility of issuing visit permits [to Israeli adults with a parent in Gaza], according to the changing conditions”.

It should be noted that the judgment lacked any substantive discussion of the petitioners’ claim that individual security checks should be used as an adequate and proportionate solution for any security concern arising from adult Israelis’ visits to Gaza; not least given that since March 2022, Israel has let thousands of Gazans enter its territory for work purposes, subject to individual security checks.

Thus the Court closed its doors on tens of thousands of divided family members, without Israel making the minimal effort to allow adult children to continue living with their parents or even to meet them periodically.