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Mixed blessing: the military approves an Israeli resident's request to continue living with her husband and children in the Gaza Strip, but if she visits her family in Israel, she would not be allowed to return to Gaza

OPT residents from Gaza who are married to Israeli residents or citizens, are not allowed to live with their spouses in Israel due to the limitations imposed by the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law and the government ban on family unification with Gazans inside Israel. Therefore, the Israeli spouses, mostly women, must spilt their lives between Israel and Gaza and also obtain the military’s permission to stay in Gaza or even just visit their home there. On top of this, in July 2015, the military began implementing a policy of restricting the entry of Israelis to the Gaza Strip, thus further infringing on the basic right to family life of such Palestinian couples and their children.

Thus was the case of an East Jerusalem woman who has been living in Gaza with her spouse and children since 2004, with a military-issued stay permit, which must be renewed every six months. On March 22, 2016, HaMoked wrote to the military to request the renewal of the woman’s stay permit. But the military – answering more than a month later, on May 4, 2016 – refused the request on “security reasons”, citing the restriction policy.

Therefore, on May 26, 2016, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to order the military to renew the woman’s permit. HaMoked stressed that the military’s refusal to do so meant the expulsion of a mother from her home and her separation from her family – an act constituting a severe and unbalanced violation of the right to family life of the woman, her spouse and their children.

On June 16, 2016, the state announced that it remained firm not to allow the woman’s “visit to Gaza”, on the grounds that the woman “was in current contact with activists in an illegal association”. In its response of July 11, 2016, HaMoked asserted that by addressing this as a “visit”, the state exposed its improper and faulty discretion in reaching the decision, given that this was not a question of “entry” to Gaza, but of the woman’s continued stay with her husband and children in their joint home in the Gaza Strip.

The next day, the state announced its new decision to issue the woman the usual six-month entry permit for Gaza, provided she returned to the Gaza Strip immediately upon receiving the permit. The state went on to clarify that, should the woman enter Israel – where her origin family lives – she would have to file a new application to enter back to Gaza, and that “insofar as an application is filed in these circumstances, the [security officials’] intention is to object to it”.

On July 18, 2016, the woman received the permit. But the state’s decision compels her to remain trapped in her home in Gaza, disconnected from her family members who live in Israel. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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