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Dear [First Name שם פרטי],

Even at the best of times, life for Palestinians in the occupied territories is regulated by myriad movement and access restrictions, and by Israel’s invasive permit bureaucracy. The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic compounded these issues, adding new layers of complexity to people’s ability to travel, access their agricultural lands or reunite with family.   

To complicate matters further, in May the Palestinian Authority halted its coordination with Israel on all civil matters, in response to Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank. This halt in coordination has potentially dramatic repercussions in many areas of Palestinian daily life.

While the PA manages most aspects of the Palestinian population registry, in “normal times” it regularly updates Israel on any changes it has made, including registering births, marriages and deaths in the West Bank and Gaza. Since the freeze in coordination, these updates have not been shared with Israel, meaning that babies born from May onward do not exist as far as Israel is concerned.

HaMoked recently received complaints from three women who were prevented from leaving the West Bank with newborn babies as a result. Israeli authorities at the Allenby Bridge Border Crossing told them they needed to get special permits in order to leave with their babies – but no information was provided on where and how they could get these permits. All three women live abroad with their husbands, and were in the West Bank for family visits. They each went to great lengths to coordinate their passage through the Allenby Bridge, which is still mostly closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. HaMoked is now intervening with the Israeli authorities demanding that these women and their children be able to travel freely.

We are extremely concerned about the wider implications of this issue. Some 25,000 babies have been born in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the PA halted coordination, none of whom appear in Israel’s version of the population registry. Regardless of the PA’s policies, as the occupying power Israel has the legal obligation to respect and protect the rights of the Palestinian population. HaMoked will work to ensure Palestinians do not suffer further restrictions on their ability to live their daily lives as a result of these developments.

Best,

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Jessica Montell
Executive Director of HaMoked

Rania (alias) arrived in the West Bank in January with her husband and 2-year-old son. Her husband has since returned to the UAE, where the couple lives. Rania and her toddler stayed in the West Bank with her family and she gave birth to a son in March. Due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, Rania was only able to register the birth after the PA halted its coordination with Israel. The pandemic also halted regular passage from the West Bank to Jordan. It took months, but Rania managed to arrange passage out of the West Bank in late July, only to be turned away by the Israeli border authorities who told her that her baby was not registered and therefore could not leave. Neither the PA nor the Israeli military offered her any guidance or assistance. HaMoked is now filing a petition to the District Court demanding that Rania and her children be allowed to return home to their husband and father.  
 
   

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