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HaMoked petitions the High Court of Justice to allow visits to the Gaza Strip during the upcoming Id al-Fitr: The state must stop severing family ties between Israel’s residents and citizens and their relatives in the Gaza Strip

The petition was filed by HaMoked on 9 September 2009 after it became clear that this year, as in the past two years, the army was not going to fulfill its commitment, given before the High Court of Justice (HCJ), to allow holiday visits, but rather intends to continue the infringement on the family ties of Israeli residents and citizens. HaMoked’s appeal to the GOC Southern Command of 28 August 2009 was not answered.

Since the beginning of the second intifada, Israeli residents and citizens have been almost entirely cut off from their relatives living in the Gaza Strip. This, as, at the time, the army embarked on a sweeping policy to restrict the number of permits granted to Israelis for the purpose of visits in Gaza and allowed such visits only in exceptional cases. Following the almost complete lack of contact between relatives in Israel and Gaza, HaMoked filed a number of petitions to the HCJ demanding to allow Israeli residents and citizens to visit their relatives during the holidays. Following submission of the petitions, HaMoked and the state arranged for a procedure which determines that in the absence of an individual security preclusion, residents and citizens of Israel will be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip to visit immediate relatives accompanied by their minor (under 18) children, during the major holidays, of Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha for Muslims and Easter and Christmas for Christians.

Despite the arrangement, the army refused to allow visits in late 2007, claiming that the security situation did not allow for the same as the holiday fell close to the time Hamas seized control of security apparatuses in Gaza and the violent struggle between Fatah in Hamas there. The court also refused to intervene in the matter in a petition filed by HaMoked at the time. Despite having rejected the petition, the court emphasized in the judgment that “this decision is reviewed and shall continue to be reviewed in the future, and provision of authorization for the entry of Israelis to the Gaza Strip will be considered when the security situation allows for it”.

Since then, the state has continued not to allow holiday visits, even in calmer times, while completely ignoring its undertakings and while impeding the one chance these residents and citizens have to nourish their familial ties with their relatives in the Gaza Strip.

In the petition, HaMoked claims that in this policy, Israel is ignoring its previous undertakings given before the HCJ and is infringing upon its citizens’ and residents’ right to family life and freedom of religion. HaMoked is requesting the court order the cessation of this unacceptable policy and the resumption of holiday visits, as in the past.

The court ordered the state to respond to HaMoked’s arguments by 11 September 2009 at 10:00 AM.

To view the petition dated 9 September 2009 (Hebrew) (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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