So Near and Yet So Far – Implications of Israeli-Imposed Seclusion of Gaza Strip on Palestinians’ Right to Family Life: New report by HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual and B’Tselem documents harm to Palestinian families divided between Gaza and the West Bank and between Gaza and Israel
After the 1967 occupation, Israel enabled Palestinians to travel relatively freely between the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel. Residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip who married Israeli citizens or Israeli residents (i.e., East Jerusalem Palestinians with Israeli ID cards) could receive permanent residential status in Israel through the family unification process. This policy facilitated the renewal of family ties and the creation of new ties of marriage, work, etc.
However, once the first intifada began in late 1987, Israel started imposing restrictions on the freedom of movement of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians. At present, it is practically impossible for Palestinians to travel between the West Bank and Gaza. There is also absolutely no possibility for Gaza residents to receive official status in Israel or East Jerusalem and live there with a local spouse.
Israel’s restrictions on entering and exiting Gaza sentence family members to separation, and force mixed Gaza-West Bank or Gaza-Israel couples to live without a normal routine, governed by a host of bureaucratic constraints. Tens of thousands of people must live with this impossible reality in which the state infringes on the most intimate aspects of their lives through many procedures with strict criteria that are virtually impossible to meet. The most fundamental and apparently simple matters such as raising a family, living together with one’s partner and children and regular contact with the relatives of both partners, are rendered impossible and impracticable. All procedures for entering and exiting the Gaza Strip are contingent on security clearance. If Israeli authorities deny clearance – even if the alleged security concerns relate to a relative and not to the actual applicant – there is no possibility to enter or exit Gaza.
HaMoked: Center of the Defence of the Individual and B’Tselem call upon Israel to respect the right of all Palestinian residents to family life and to freedom of movement, and to allow them to choose where to live. When one spouse is a resident of the West Bank, the couple must be allowed free movement – subject to individual security checks – between Gaza and the West Bank, which constitute a single territorial unit. Israel must also enable residents of Gaza who marry Israeli citizens or residents to live with their spouses, and enable residents of Gaza to maintain regular family ties with relatives in Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Click here to read the full report
Watch Nibal Mghari's video testimony