On March 8, 2016, Gisha filed a High Court petition (Hebrew) on behalf of three Palestinian citizens of Israel, an elderly couple and their daughter, who requested to enter Gaza to attend their granddaughter’s wedding. The three had not seen their relatives in Gaza for about ten years. The petition was filed after the Gaza DCO refused the petitioners’ application for permits, claiming it did not meet the criteria.
In the petition and the urgent hearing held by the court on March 9, 2013, Gisha argued that the application did meet criteria published by the state for entry of Israeli citizens to Gaza, which include the possibility of grandparents attending their grandchildren’s weddings. The criteria were listed in policy papers and in the operating procedures of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, and over the last few years, other Israeli grandparents have attended their grandchildren’s weddings in Gaza.
At the end of the hearing, and following comments made by the justices (Hebrew), the state agreed to allow the Israeli citizens to enter Gaza for several days. After Gisha’s position was accepted, on March 10, 2016, the three citizens entered Gaza and met their family. The state, however, did note that it would issue a statement clarifying that the term “first-degree relatives” does not include grandparents and their grandchildren when it comes to entry by Israeli citizens to Gaza. This move will exacerbate the restrictions placed on the freedom of movement of Israeli citizens who have relatives in Gaza. These citizens are already subjected to an extremely stringent access policy, which allows them to see family only in cases of a serious illness, a wedding or a funeral.
It is regrettable that it took a court petition for the state authorities to see fit to approve such an elementary request by Israeli citizens to see their family in Gaza, whom they had not seen for ten years.