Couple born in Gaza return to the Strip to visit family
Bahij Sekheq was born in the Gaza Strip but in 1964 moved to Kuwait for work. Two years later, he married Najla al-Burnu, who was also born in Gaza. Najla moved to Kuwait to join her husband, and their children were born there. Since the couple left the Gaza Strip before 1967, they are not registered as Palestinian residents in the Israeli-controlled population registry; however, they hold Canadian citizenship. For many years, the couple and their children visited family in Gaza each year. They traveled to Jordan, entered the West Bank via Allenby Bridge, and continued through Israel to the Gaza Strip. In 1997, the family entered Gaza via Egypt to celebrate the marriage of their daughter Faiza to a Gaza resident. The couple traveled to Gaza again in 2000, but after the Second Intifada erupted later that year, they were unable to visit the Strip for many years.
In June 2011, the couple requested to enter Gaza in order to visit their daughter, who they had not seen for over ten years, as well as Bahij’s sick mother, aged 89. Gisha advocated on behalf of the couple vis-à-vis Israeli military authorities, noting that Bahij and Najla meet the criteria to enter Gaza being as they are foreign citizens with first-degree relatives living there. In mid-July, Israel agreed to allow the couple to enter Gaza in order to visit their family.