After 14 years apart, N. visits his family in the Gaza Strip

After 14 years, N. was able to attend his younger sister’s wedding in the Gaza Strip and visit his family. N., a 47 year old Palestinian originally from the Gaza Strip, moved to the West Bank in 1996. About 18 months later, he was joined by his wife and their five children.  In mid-2000, N. contacted the Palestinian Interior Ministry in order to be registered as a resident of the West Bank, but his change of address was not updated in the records of the Israeli Civil Administration, as by then, Israel had decided to halt all updates to the Palestinian population registry as part of a policy designed to separate Gaza and West Bank and their populations.

Residents of the West Bank whose registered address is in the Gaza Strip live under the threat of removal, and N., who earns his living as a driver and as a result has had to cross the many checkpoints throughout the West Bank, has lived in constant fear of being removed to the Gaza Strip. He was also unable to travel abroad via the Allenby Bridge border crossing and did not visit his relatives in Gaza for fear he would not be allowed to return home to the West Bank. This is why N. has not seen his mother, who suffers from kidney failure, and why she had never met some of her grandchildren, the children born to N. and his wife following their move to the West Bank.

In early 2011, the Israeli government pledged to the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East that it would allow 5,000 Palestinians who live in the West Bank with registered addresses in the Gaza Strip to change their address to the West Bank. Approval for a change of address was given to N.'s wife and their eldest son in August, but N.’s address was not changed.

In March 2012, as he continued to desperately await the change, N. contacted Gisha to have us look into the possibility of arranging for a trip to Gaza to attend his younger sister’s wedding which was scheduled for mid-April. Since N.’s registered address is in Gaza, Gisha contacted the Gaza DCO and managed to obtain a permit for him to enter the Gaza Strip, and more importantly, to return to his home in the West Bank afterwards. N. left for Gaza with two of his younger daughters, who were born in the West Bank and had never met their grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins. He visited with his family for nine days. At the end of the visit, N. and his daughters returned back home to the West Bank.