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17.1.2018

Only following HaMoked’s persistence: the military allowed a woman to visit her ill and elderly sister in Gaza, some six months after the application was filed

As part of Israel’s strategy to isolate the Gaza Strip, Israel has long been pursuing a policy aimed at cutting off the links between Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and Israel and their relatives who live in Gaza. Israel will only consider requests of Israelis to enter Gaza for what it defines as an “exceptional humanitarian need”: participation in a wedding or funeral of an immediate relative, or a visit to a severely-ill immediate relative – when the patient’s life is in danger or when prolonged hospitalization is necessary. Thus, an intolerable situation exists where children, parents, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren are prevented from seeing each other for long periods of time, even for years.

Thus in the case of a widow who is an Israeli citizen living in the Israeli city of Lod, who wanted to visit her elderly sister living in the Gaza Strip, whom she had last visited in Gaza in December 2016. The sister is bedridden due to paralysis on the right side of her body due to a stroke she suffered in the past, suffers from several chronic illnesses, including diabetes and osteoporosis, and requires assistance in daily functions.

HaMoked contacted the military on July 25, 2017, to request the woman be allowed to visit, but on August 9, 2017, the military sent its refusal, “in light of the fact that the medical condition of the patient does not meet the criteria”. HaMoked’s request for reconsideration, sent on August 24, 2017, and two reminders sent later on, were left without any pertinent response.

Therefore, on December 21, 2017, HaMoked sent the military a firm letter, reiterating the circumstances of the case, including the difficult and fragile medical condition of the sister in Gaza. In its letter, HaMoked stressed that in similar cases it had handled concerning applications to visit an elderly relative suffering from non-life-threatening chronic illnesses, the military retracted its refusal following a petition to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) – and before a court hearing was held. HaMoked recalled, inter alia, its petitions HCJ 4088/17 and HCJ 5672/17, following which the military allowed the petitioners to visit their relatives in Gaza in similar circumstances. HaMoked, therefore, demanded once more that the military allow the woman to visit to her elderly sister without delay.

Three weeks later, on January 14, 2018, the military’s response arrived, stating the woman’s visit to Gaza was “approved for three days”.

On January 15, 2018, the woman finally entered Gaza to visit her sister, nearly six months after her initial visit application was filed.
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