Petition to allow an Israeli citizen to reunite with his spouse in the Gaza Strip, HCJ 8563/14 Hamamdeh v. Minister of Defense
On December 15, 2014, a petition (Hebrew) was filed to the Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, on behalf of an Israeli citizen who is married to a Palestinian resident of Gaza. The petition seeks the court to compel the respondents, the Minister of Defense, the GOC Southern Command and the commander of the Gaza DCO to allow the petitioner to enter Gaza under the Divided Families Procedure (Hebrew).
The State of Israel allows Israeli citizens, who marry Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, to exercise their right to family life only in the Gaza Strip and not in Israel. The process by which permits to remain in the Gaza Strip are issued is stipulated in the Divided Families Procedure. The petitioner’s own request under this procedure to enter Gaza had been refused by the respondents, citing only “security reasons”. This refusal has effectively blocked the petitioner’s sole avenue for realizing his right to family life.
The decision to deny the petitioner’s request was neither reasonable nor proportionate. Based on the circumstances, there is concern that the respondents’ refusal to allow the petitioner into the Gaza Strip is not based on the need to protect security, but on the desire to punish the petitioner, who has entered the Gaza Strip illegally in the past (after his request to enter the Strip to reunite with his spouse had not been answered for many months). The petitioner’s right to family life is an actual, well-established and important consideration. The respondents’ decision is arbitrary and predicated on preferring the irrelevant consideration of the petitioner’s prior conviction over his right to family life. Aside from the decision itself, the fact that no grounds were given and no hearing was held is a violation of the public authority’s duty to issue detailed decisions, and the petitioner’s right to plead his case. Given the lengthy period of time during which he has been prevented from reuniting with his spouse, the petitioner asked the court to schedule a hearing as soon as possible.
On December 15, 2014, the court ordered the respondents to make their submission by January 5, 2015. The court did not schedule a hearing but will consider an early hearing after receiving the respondents’ answer.
As a side point, we note that the petitioner has been waiting for many years to reunite with his wife and has had to take legal action before as part of his efforts to do so. Divided Family Procedure. the gs n behalf of an isr