Gisha files administrative petition against COGAT’s decision to deny an entire family’s exit from Gaza for the purpose of attending a visa interview at the American Consulate in East Jerusalem (AP 43092-04-16, A.H et al. v. COGAT)
The H family, older adult parents and their two adult daughters, all residents of the Gaza Strip, asked for a permit to enter Israel for an interview at the American Consulate in East Jerusalem. The family hopes to get a visa to visit their son who has been living in the US for about a decade with his spouse and children, including a newborn baby.
The family submitted its application to the Gaza DCO over six months ago, and received an approval, but when they arrived at Erez Crossing in order to travel from Gaza and attend the interview, scheduled for the same day, they were denied exit for unknown reasons. They were told to return to the Gaza Strip and the permits they had been given were confiscated. Another application the family filed after the interview was rescheduled was also approved, but once again, upon arrival at Erez, they were denied exit, and told to turn back after spending an entire day at the crossing, during which the mother endured a long, intrusive interview/interrogation.
After Gisha contacted the DCO to inquire why the family were denied exit even though their requests had been approved twice, ostensibly clearing them for travel, we were told that “there are security allegations, that naturally cannot be divulged, against” all family members, though none of them had ever been arrested or interrogated by the Israeli security forces. The DCO would not say how long the security preclusion would remain in effect or what was behind it.
This answer blocks any possibility to even begin the process of obtaining a visa in order to visit the son, based on unsubstantiated security grounds which have not been explained. Therefore, Gisha filed an administrative petition (Hebrew) with the Beersheva District Court on April 21, 2016.
After the petition was submitted, the court ordered the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (Hebrew) to file its response within ten days.