Why can’t a child who is six years and eight months old visit his sick grandmother?
A Palestinian woman from the West Bank wants to visit her sick mother in the Gaza Strip with her four children, the oldest of whom is 11 years old. We contact the security establishment to find out the status of her application. Because her mother really is very sick, her application is approved, but none of her children can go with her. Why? Because although children can accompany mothers traveling in such circumstances, they can only do so if they are under six years old, and this woman’s youngest child is six years and eight months old. Every once in a while we try to see if the civil administration is willing to bend the rules a little. Well, the answer this time is no, or, as the civil administration put it – the children do not meet the criteria for travel.
The security establishment isn’t saying that six-year-olds or eleven-year-olds are a security threat. Obviously, they are not. It’s also obvious that a visit with their sick grandmother won’t put Israel’s national security at risk. The reason for the refusal is that the army, under the instructions of the government, has adopted the principle of reducing travel between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to a minimum. This case shows that this principle is applied to travel in both directions.
It’s also worth noting that the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) doesn’t always follow its own criteria. This week, a Palestinian from the West Bank who wanted to visit his sick mother in Gaza with his children contacted us. Even though both his children are under six – one child is two years old and the other four years old – their application to travel was still denied. The man finally decided to go to the Gaza Strip on his own and leave the children behind in the West Bank.
A few comments:
a. Why six years old? Why is it that a child who is six years and eight months old can’t travel, but a five-and-a-half-year-old can?
b. Note the protocol above. It refers to entry into Israel from the Gaza Strip, not travel between the West Bank and Gaza. The protocol for travel from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip doesn’t contain regulations about accompanying relatives, regardless of their age. So why suddenly claim that a child can’t travel because she is more than six years old? COGAT only knows.
c. Maybe most importantly – why can a person go visit his sick mother but a child cannot go visit his sick grandmother? We don’t know. Maybe you can hazard a guess.
Your permit has expired. You can’t return home.
Since the beginning of December, we have been trying, unsuccessfully, to help a Palestinian woman return home to the Gaza Strip after a visit to the West Bank. She applied for a permit to travel from Gaza in order to visit her sick father in the West Bank. While waiting for the permit request to be approved, the woman’s mother was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer. She left Gaza at the beginning of November with a permit which was valid for only five days. During her visit, her mother’s condition deteriorated rapidly, and sadly, two days after her permit expired, the woman’s mother passed away. She stayed in the West Bank for a few more days to take part in the mourning period with her father. Now, for over a month, she has been waiting for word about her request to return home, where her daughter and partner await her.