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23.9.2020

HaMoked petitions to allow a mother and baby to join the father at their home in the UAE; the military prevents them from leaving the West Bank on the grounds the baby’s details do not appear in its records

On September 22, 2020, HaMoked petitioned the Jerusalem District Court on behalf of a Palestinian woman and her two children, the youngest a baby born this March, who wish to be reunited with the father of their family at their home in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). All three were born in the West Bank, have been registered in the population registry of the oPt managed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and hold valid passports. But shortly after the baby’s birth during a family visit to the West Bank, the PA stopped its coordination on civilian affairs with Israel, following Israel’s declared intent to annex additional West Bank lands. In the framework of the freeze, the PA no longer updates Israel on new identity numbers and passports it issues, based on which Israel used to update its copy of the Palestinian registry.

Thus, in late July 2020, when the petitioner and her two children arrived at Allenby Bridge border crossing on their way to Jordan and from there to the UAE, the military prevented them from continuing their journey, claiming the baby’s details did not appear in the Israeli copy of the Palestinian population registry. All of the woman’s efforts and HaMoked’s letters on her behalf were to no avail. The military has yet to confirm in writing that the woman and her children will be allowed to cross Allenby Bridge, even if the baby’s details have not been provided by the PA. Thus, to this day, the three are forced to remain separated from the father of the family who has yet to meet his newborn son.

In the petition, HaMoked stressed that as the occupying power, it was Israel’s positive obligation to enable the protected population to realize their basic right to leave their country, irrespective of the actions of the PA. HaMoked noted that under the Interim Agreement, the PA held the authority to issue passports to residents of the oPt, and that “Israel recognizes the validity” of these passports. Therefore, there was no basis to the military legislation’s stipulation that Palestinians traveling from their country via Allenby Bridge have their accurate and updated details recorded in the Israeli copy of the registry. Moreover, in the case of minors, insofar as there were no discrepancies between the details in the minor’s passport and birth certificate and their details in the mother’s identity card and the exit card issued to her by the PA, the military clearly had no reasonable reason to act as if the situation was suspicious, warranting preventing the minor’s departure.

HaMoked demanded that the family be allowed to return to their home at once, ending the violation of their rights to freedom of movement and family life have been severely harmed. HaMoked reminded that the military was obligated to prioritize the child’s best interests, and demanded that a general remedy be formulated to resolve all such cases.
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