This week we share the heart-wrenching story of Hadil (not her real name), whose application for a humanitarian permit to visit her ailing sister in Israel was denied due to an ostensive “security block.” A few days later, following our legal intervention, Israeli authorities removed the security block – but by then, it was too late.

In early January, Hadil, a Palestinian resident of Gaza in her 60s, filed an application to enter Israel to visit her sister, a citizen of Israel, after a marked deterioration in her sister’s health. The next day, Hadil heard through the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee in Gaza that the Israeli authorities had denied her application, stating laconically that the grounds for her denial was a “security block.”

Hadil contacted Gisha, and we sent an urgent inquiry on her behalf to the Israeli authorities. In the inquiry, we emphasized that “your response to our client’s application suggests that her application was not examined, that no updated security assessment was conducted, and that the circumstances of her urgent, humanitarian request were not taken into adequate consideration.” We also specified that “allowing our client to exit Gaza urgently to visit her sister, probably for the last time, would align with Israel’s obligation to enable her to realize her rights to freedom of movement and family life.”

A few days later, before any response had been received from the Israeli authorities, Hadil’s sister passed away. The two sisters, who had not seen each other in a long time given Israel’s travel restrictions, did not get a chance to part. Following her sister’s death, we again contacted Israeli authorities to demand Hadil be granted a permit to take part in mourning rituals in Israel. The request was approved, and the unspecified “security block” which had been in place only days earlier, preventing the sisters from reuniting for one last time, ostensibly disappeared.

Unfortunately, Hadil’s story is far from unusual. Again and again, unexplained “security blocks” are imposed even on the few Palestinians who meet Israel’s stringent criteria for travel. In numerous cases, the blocks are removed when challenged by Gisha or other organizations, highlighting how arbitrarily they are imposed in the first place, with no accountability for the price paid by Palestinians.