Huda Wahidi, 46, is a Palestinian who was born in Israel. Twenty-six years ago, she married her husband, a resident of Gaza, and moved to the Strip to live with him. Wahidi has had difficulties maintaining continuous contact with her family in Israel, particularly since Israel tightened the closure on the Strip in 2007. Visiting family inside Israel, a rare occurrence in its own right, means leaving her spouse, and sometimes her children, behind. Some of her children haven’t seen her side of their family in years.
“Holidays are sad days for me,” says Wahidi, “full of longing for my parents, my sisters and brothers.” The same is true for weddings and other family events. Wahidi speaks sorrowfully of how she was prevented from attending her nephew’s wedding, and when her own son was married, only her mother received a permit to enter Gaza.
Israel’s criteria for travel by Palestinians do not include childbirth – even for the child’s father. Huda gave birth to her eldest children in Ramle, inside Israel, meaning her husband could not be by her side. The couple’s other children were born in Gaza, without the support of her family members. “It was very difficult. I really needed my mother and sisters beside me,” she says.
Given Israel’s prohibition on family unification for Palestinians in Israel or the West Bank, many women living in Gaza who moved there following their marriage to a Gaza resident are cut off from their families in the West Bank and Israel.
In 2015, Gisha released a special photography project that told the stories of three Palestinian families split between Gaza and the West Bank, featuring photos taken by Alex Levac and Eman Mohammed in the two parts of the occupied Palestinian territory. In the top picture are Nasser and Salwa Yaghi and two of their children, in Gaza. Below are Alaa, their daughter, and her husband Adham, in the West Bank.
A new report by Gisha, Discrimination by Default, provides a gender analysis of the ways in which the permit regime harms Palestinian women in Gaza, particularly in regard to economic access and access to family. To read more, click here.