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21.6.2015

The military rejected all of HaMoked's applications to allow Israeli residents and citizens to visit their relatives in the Gaza Strip during Id al-Fitr: HaMoked demands the decision be reconsidered in light of the GOC Southern Commander's recommendation to approve the holiday visits

Since the outbreak of the second intifada in late 2000, Israeli citizens and residents have been almost entirely cut off from their relatives who live in the Gaza Strip. Israel implemented a sweeping policy allowing visits to the Gaza Strip only exceptionally, in cases defined humanitarian. Family visits, even to immediate relatives, do not constitute by themselves a humanitarian case. In 2004, following HaMoked's petitions to the High Court of Justice (HCJ), Israel established a procedure to allow Israelis to enter Gaza – with their spouses and children under age 18 – to visit immediate relatives during Id al-Fitr, Id al-Adha and Christmas, provided there was no individual security preclusion. But after Hamas took control over Gaza, Israel withdrew its undertaking, and has been preventing all holiday visits on the claim that the security situation does not allow it.

Ahead of the month of Ramadan and Id al-Fitr celebrated at its end, HaMoked filed a number of individual applications on behalf of Israelis who wished to visit their loved ones who live in Gaza during this year's holiday period, after years of separation. HaMoked noted the severe cumulative infringement on the right to family life of these applicants and others in their situation. HaMoked recalled that in recent years, Israel had followed a lenient policy in some areas relating to travel of people from and into the Gaza Strip. HaMoked asserted that as Israel allowed people to leave Gaza and return there for business and religious purposes, it should undoubtedly allow the passage of people who hadn't met their loved ones for years. HaMoked addressed the applications to the GOC Southern Commander and to the District Coordination Office (DCO) in Gaza.

On June 8, 2015, in his response to HaMoked, the GOC Southern Commander declared that he "recommends approving the applications pursuant to the regulations and examinations by the Israel Security Agency". However, until June 10, 2015, the Gaza DCO rejected all of the eleven applications HaMoked had filed, "due to failure to meet the criteria and not under the current policy".

On June 15, 2015, HaMoked again contacted the Gaza DCO and asked that the refusals be reconsidered. HaMoked noted that despite the willingness expressed in the GOC Southern Commander's response to approve the applications, all were rejected. HaMoked recalled the special importance of holiday visits and emphasized the harm caused by their denial.

It can only be hoped that the GOC Southern Commander's response was not just empty words, and that it would lead to the military's cancelation of the harmful decision to ban the visits.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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