Petition to High Court regarding COGAT’s refusal to allow a bride from Gaza to travel to her own wedding in Jordan, with her fiancée, who lives in Spain. The petition also challenges COGAT’s refusal to allow the groom’s parents to travel to the wedding
About three years ago, H. and A. met in the Gaza Strip, and fell in love. A., however, is a Spanish citizen who has lived in Spain for several years, and was in Gaza on a short visit. The couple continued their relationship using the telephone and Skype, and eventually decided to get married and began planning their wedding. Since H. lives with her parents in the Gaza Strip, as do the groom’s parents, the two decided to have the wedding in Jordan. The groom would come to Jordan from Spain and the rest of the family would come from the Gaza Strip. H. would then move to live in Spain with her husband.
But the couple’s plans came up against an ironclad refusal from the Israeli military authorities, which control Palestinian travel abroad from Gaza via Israel. The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) refused to allow the bride to travel to her own wedding. He also refused to allow the groom’s parents to travel for the wedding. The grounds cited were that the criteria for travel for the purpose of a wedding apply only to individuals wishing to attend a relative’s wedding. Absurdly, and illogically, the criteria do not explicitly allow the bride or groom to travel to their own wedding.
Because of this refusal, A. and H. have not seen each other for more than three years, and their wedding and new life together seem like a distant dream.
Gisha wrote a letter on behalf of the bride and the groom’s parents requesting a reconsideration of the refusal, given the severe violation of their rights to family life and freedom of movement, but to no avail. The refusal stood. Therefore, on November 18, 2015, Gisha filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on behalf of the bride and the groom’s parents. Given the humanitarian nature of the case, the court was requested to schedule a hearing as soon as possible.
In the petition it was argued that the decision of the COGAT severely violates the petitioners’ rights and that it is unreasonable and disproportionate. The decision relies on a literal reading of the criteria put in place for travel abroad by Gaza residents via Israel; it is inconsistent with similar cases, in which brides and grooms were permitted to travel to their own weddings, and it ignores the humanitarian circumstances of the case: the humanitarian nature of the request, i.e. a wedding, the fact that there is no concern regarding settlement in the West Bank or Israel, the fact that the request is solely for transit through Israel and the fact that the applicants had previously received permits to travel from Gaza to the West Bank or to Israel for different needs. For all these reasons, the court was asked to intervene in the decision and order the approval of the application.