13 Human Rights Organizations Petition the Supreme Court: Israel Should Not Determine Which Parent a Palestinian Child Lives with

•  The organizations are petitioning against a new procedure which almost completely blocks the possibility of relocating from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.
• The procedure determines that parent-child and spousal relationships do not constitute “humanitarian” grounds justifying family unification in the West Bank.
• “Humanitarian” according to Israel: An orphaned child in the Gaza Strip would not be allowed to unite with his surviving parent in the West Bank if any relative in Gaza can care for him.
• The procedure is another stage in Israel’s policy designed to deepen the separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Mon., March 15, 2010 – HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, and 11 other Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations petitioned the Supreme Court today against the military and the Minister of Defense, demanding the revocation of an illegal procedure which prevents Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip from relocating to the West Bank, even in clearly humanitarian cases. The petition, written by Att. Ido Blum of HaMoked, states: “With the stroke of a pen, the procedure severs the fabric of life between Gaza and the West Bank for residents of the Territories. It effectively cancels Palestinians’ right to family life, tearing apart families and separating spouses, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren. The procedure is, in effect, the last nail in the coffin of the connection between Gaza and the West Bank and their status as a single territorial unit (and in the future, perhaps, a single Palestinian state).”
In the new procedure, Israel empties the term “humanitarian” of any content by determining that family ties do not, in and of themselves, constitute sufficient humanitarian grounds for receiving a permit to relocate from Gaza to the West Bank. Thus, for example, Israel forbids a child who lost his mother in Gaza from moving to live with his father who resides in the West Bank, if he has any relatives in Gaza, no matter what degree, who can care for him. According to the procedure, spouses’ requests to live together and children’s requests to live with their parents are to be rejected out of hand, without being reviewed. The petition asks: “Is it conceivable that a security–bureaucratic procedure will determine which parent a child will live with; who will care for the elderly matron of the family; who will care for an ailing brother?”
The petition further argues that the procedure is another component of a policy allowing one-way passage as the sole means through which Palestinians can fulfill their right to family life: permanent relocation from the West Bank to Gaza.
The Petition challenges the procedure which was submitted to the Supreme Court following a number of petitions filed by HaMoked and Gisha requesting family unification between Gaza and the West Bank. The procedure prevents thousands of families – some of which are represented by HaMoked and Gisha – from uniting in the West Bank.
Mrs. Fathiya Abu Jalaleh, a mother of five, lived in the West Bank for more than 10 years. In January 2008, she traveled with her four minor children to the Gaza Strip, while her husband Issam and their eldest son remained in Jenin due to the father’s position with National Security. In the two years since, Israel has continued to prevent the family from reuniting in the West Bank since Fathiya’s registered address is in Gaza.
Mrs. Wafaa Sufi was married in the Gaza Strip to Mr. Subhi Sufi from the West Bank, They lived for some time with their four young daughters in the Gaza Strip, but about three years ago, Mr. Sufi had to return to the West Bank for the purpose of work and securing a livelihood, among other things. The two have not seen each other since, nor have the girls seen their father. Mrs. Sufi recently traveled to Jordan with the girls and sought to enter the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge. The Israeli military refused to let them in.
The organizations which filed the petition: HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights, Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights.