“But if you just want to see your mother, that doesn’t count”

“About a third of people living in Gaza have relatives either in the West Bank, Israel or East Jerusalem”, a screenshot from the film.

June 18, 2015. Gisha co-founder, Sari Bashi, and Gisha intake coordinator, Shadi Butthish, were interviewed for a film by Ashraf Mashhrawi that aired on Al Jazeera English. The film explores the separation between Gaza, the West Bank and Israel from 1948 to the present day.

“Gaza and the West Bank together with Israel were part of historical Palestine or Mandatory Palestine and there were economic, social, cultural ties in all parts of that territory”, said Adv. Bashi in the interview. “That continuity was interrupted for a period of two decades between 1948 and 1967 and the Israeli occupation in 1967 actually brought those territories together. It’s strange to say now because the situation is so different, but actually the Israeli occupation brought back freedom of movement, and between 1967 and 1991 there was a good ability to travel between Gaza, Israel and the West Bank. The rule was that anybody could travel between Gaza, Israel and the West Bank, unless specifically prohibited” (minute 8:20).

“We did a poll to try to get a sense for how many people from Gaza have relatives in Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, areas where they need permits in order to reach them”, Adv. Bashi added, “and we found that about a third of people living in Gaza have relatives either in the West Bank, Israel or East Jerusalem. So there’s a tremendous need to travel to see family members, but the criteria are such that you can only travel in very exceptional humanitarian circumstances. If your mother is very very very ill, you may get a permit; weddings are also allowed, funerals are allowed for first degree relatives. But if you just want to see your mother because you haven’t her in twenty years, that doesn’t count” (minute 26:16).

Watch the film here.