A.A. is a Palestinian woman with Israeli citizenship, and W.A. is a Palestinian woman with Israeli residency status. On June 24, 2021, Gisha filed an urgent High Court petition in their names, after the application made by each of them to visit her sick mother in the Gaza Strip had been denied due to the “coronavirus” closure Israel was imposing at Erez Crossing. Their respective elderly mothers were both battling cancer, and the daughters feared that if they did not visit them soon, they would not be able to say goodbye before they passed.  

Despite the dire, urgent circumstances described in the petition, Justice Hendel ruled that the petitioners had to file an amended petition concerning only one of them, and that the other should file a separate petition. Given this decision, on June 27, 2021, we filed an amended petition (Hebrew) in A.A.’s name and a new petition (Hebrew) in W.A.’s name.  

Gisha demanded an urgent hearing, as the mothers were on their death beds. We argued that Israel’s policy of denying visits to the Gaza Strip unless there is a funeral was extremely unreasonable and designed to serve its political agenda in the aftermath of Operation Guardian of the Walls. The policy meant that the petitioners would have to wait until their mothers died to receive the precious permit. The fact that Israeli citizens can enter Gaza for funerals shows that the ban is not motivated by security considerations, but rather serves as a way to put pressure on the authorities in Gaza by punishing the civilian population. Allowing people to enter Gaza once their relatives have died but not when they are still alive makes absolutely no sense. On the contrary, this is a cruel, abusive policy that causes needless suffering. 

On July 1, 2021, A.A.’s mother passed away. We filed an application for her to enter Gaza to attend the funeral along with her children, and it was immediately approved. Given the circumstances, we had no choice but to delete the petition.  

On the very same day, the attorney for the state in the case told us that the policy had changed, and that Israeli citizens were now permitted to enter Gaza to visit sick relatives. Despite the dire circumstances and the fact that the other petitioner’s mother had passed away, the state insisted that W.A. file a new application; otherwise, she would not be granted entry into the Gaza Strip. Another week went by until the Gaza CLA finally approved the application. After W.A. saw her mother, we asked to have the petition deleted but with a costs order in our favor. The court denied the motion.