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14.3.2021

HaMoked to the military: residents and citizens of Israel have a right to family life with their Gazan parents even after they become adults; they must be allowed regular visits to Gaza

For years, Israel has been allowing residents and citizens of Israel who have one parent who is a resident of the Gaza Strip (usually the father) to visit that parent or live with him in Gaza only subject to the “divided families” procedure. But this procedure applies to such children only until they reach their 18th birthday. Once they turn 18, they cannot visit their fathers in Gaza, except under special humanitarian circumstances, such as the father’s severe illness or death. The fathers themselves cannot live in Israel with their spouses due to the restrictions of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law and the sweeping prohibition on family unification procedures with Gazans. Thus, as a matter of routine, Israel severely infringes the basic right to family life of many Israelis, who must separate indefinitely from their father just as they reach adulthood.

Recently, HaMoked had to petition the High Court of Justice (HCJ) on behalf of several young people to demand they be allowed one last “routine” visit to their parent in Gaza. This, after the military refused their request for a final visit, despite the circumstances, especially the Coronavirus travel restrictions, and in heartless insistence that entry was possible only up to age 18 and not a moment after. Petitions to the HCJ in these cases – as well as in others relating to the predicament of “divided families” – are not always successful and in any case do not provide a long-term satisfactory solution to the hundreds of family members whose right to family life is routinely violated.

Therefore, on February 11, 2021, HaMoked wrote to the military to demand that adult Israelis whose parents live in Gaza be allowed to visit them there regularly, and not only under exceptional humanitarian circumstances. HaMoked asked that the “divided families” procedure that enables visits for spouses and minor children of such families, be extended to apply also to the adult children, allowing them to receive six-month-long renewable permits for visiting Gaza.

Israeli policy severely harms the right to family life of those who maintain a center of life in Israel. However, HaMoked stressed that the current procedure causes the greatest harm to Israeli children whose center of life is in Gaza. Under the current stipulations, once they turn 18 they are to be uprooted from their home, their family and their social environment in Gaza – all that they know, love and rely upon. This expulsion is liable to disrupt the course of their whole life (especially in the case of young women who are generally expected to live with their parents until marriage).

The letter states that “one of the crucial key-components for the continued development and maturity as independent adults, is the stable physical presence of the parent in their lives”. Additionally, HaMoked noted, “an adult child cannot properly honor his father and mother, support and care for them as they had done in his/her childhood, if they cannot stand by them in a time of joy, a time of need and any normal time in between”.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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