S’s application were repeatedly refused even though she met the criteria

S’s son is a prisoner, jailed in Israel for security offenses since age 17. He is now 27, and since the closure was imposed on the Gaza Strip, his mother has been able to visit him only twice. The last few applications for a permit she made through the ICRC were rejected. When she contacted Gisha, she had not seen her son for almost a year.

According to Israeli policy, Gaza residents are permitted to enter Israel only in exceptional humanitarian circumstances, and even then, subject to the applicant receiving security clearance. Israel does allow relatives of prisoners who are incarcerated in Israel to enter the country in order to visit them in jail. The conditions for these visits are detailed in a procedure (Hebrew) published by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories in October 2014, following Gisha’s petition. S meets the criteria, and because she was familiar with the policy, she could not understand why she was not allowed to visit her son.

When this summer’s fighting ended and prison visits in Israel were renewed, she signed up for an ICRC-organized visit, but her application was once again denied. Her son still has three years remaining in his sentence, and she feared it would be that long before she saw him again.

Gisha contacted the Gaza DCO on S’s behalf, asking that she be allowed to make the visit to the Israeli prison. We waited for an answer for sixty days, not knowing why her applications had been denied and unable to think of a plausible reason for the refusal. When no response arrived, we contacted the DCO again, and the application was approved without any explanation as to why her previous applications had been persistently denied.

About a month ago, S was finally able to exit the Strip to visit her jailed son, after a year of not seeing him, and after too many applications that were met with unclear refusals. It was the third time mother and son saw each other over the past eight years.