More than a year later – COGAT rejects Gisha’s request for updates to the Divided Families Procedure which regulates entry by Israeli citizens into the Gaza Strip.
In May 2014, we wrote (Hebrew) to the public liaison officer at the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, demanding an update to the Divided Families Procedure (Hebrew) which regulates entry by Israeli citizens into the Gaza Strip.
Residents of the Gaza Strip who marry Israelis are currently precluded from obtaining status in Israel. However, Israel does allow its citizens who marry Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip to fulfil their right to family life in the Gaza Strip. Under the Divided Families Procedure, the Israeli spouse may apply for and receive a stay permit for the Gaza Strip from the military commander.
We asked that the procedure be updated to include, among others, provisions for issuing multi-entry permits for the duration of the stay-permit’s validity, extending stay-permits by a year each time, issuing stay-permits for Israeli citizens whose Gaza spouses have passed away and to the adult children of divided families, who are Israeli citizens themselves.
On June 16, 2015, more than a year after we contacted COGAT, the response of its public liaison officer (Hebrew), who has since been replaced, arrived. The response stated that the decision was to reject the changes we had suggested, because of a security need to “reduce the volume and frequency of Israeli travel between the Gaza Strip and Israel and to reduce Israeli citizens’ presence in the Strip”. The letter also stated that the authorities were doing their best to process requests made by Israeli spouses professionally and expeditiously.