Samira (not her real name), aged 59, from Gaza, is suffering from depression and anxiety. Her husband passed away almost three months ago, and she has been living on her own ever since. The neighbors help from time to time, but she has no family in the Gaza Strip. Her siblings live in the West Bank and in Israel, but they have not received permits to enter Gaza to be with her. Their request to visit their sister has been deemed “not within criteria”. As they found out, the criteria are very clear: had Samira died, her siblings would have been able to travel to Gaza to pay their condolences to her husband. But Samira, well, she’s alive, so her siblings stay out.
Unfortunately, we’re not making this up. According to criteria, in cases of bereavement, it is possible to receive a permit to travel to Gaza when a first degree relative dies, but not in order to comfort a first degree relative who is mourning the loss of a loved one. Therefore, the Military Legal Advisor for the West Bank rejected Samira’s siblings’ application. Even a request for special consideration from MK Zahava Gal-On to the Assistant to the Defense Minister, Adv. Ruth Bar, didn’t help. The response stated: “The relevant officials have not found that Ms. _________’s condition justifies an exception [being made] to the criteria listed in the document.”
So Samira will stay alone. The cold comfort? At the end of the letter rejecting the permit request, the Legal Advisor asked that sincere condolences be passed on to Samira for her loss.