Nasser, a Gaza resident, was prevented from entering Israel and the West Bank for eight years due to “security considerations”. But when Gisha approached the security establishment on Nasser’s behalf, the considerations evaporated.

A 52-year-old Christian from Gaza, Nasser used to travel to Bethlehem during Christian holidays. Unlike hundreds of other Christians, for the last eight years Nasser was unable to obtain a permit to travel to Israel and from there to the West Bank, without ever understanding why.

In early 2010, he attempted to get an explanation for the consistent refusals he’d received to his permit requests with the aid of a Palestinian human rights organization. It was then that he was told that “security considerations” were the reason for his inability to travel. Nasser had no idea what these considerations might be: he had never been detained, interrogated or accused of anything. When he was allowed to enter Israel during the holidays – before 2003 – he always made sure to come back to Gaza before the permit expired. Moreover, his wife and his brother, who also live in Gaza, regularly receive permits to enter Israel, while another brother of his holds Israeli citizenship and lives in Jaffa.

In December 2011, the Christian community in Gaza collected all the names of residents interested in receiving travel permits to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem. The list included Nasser and his two sons, who are minors. The sons were given permits, but Nasser was once again refused.

Following the refusal, in early January, Gisha wrote to the District Coordination Office in Gaza with an urgent request to allow Nasser travel from the Strip, together with his children, to celebrate the Christian holidays in Bethlehem. Miraculously enough, this time no security argument was raised against Nasser, and on January 9th the Gaza DCO informed Gisha that Nasser had permission to travel to Bethlehem for five days. Nasser received the permit after Christmas celebrations had already ended, but at least he managed to meet with his brother from Jaffa, whom he hadn’t seen for eight years.