This Week in Court: The Twins

Following legal action by Gisha, Israel allowed two 16-year-old twin brothers to move from Gaza to the West Bank.

The twins were born in the West Bank while their mother, originally from the West Bank, was visiting her family there. After they were born, she applied to return to Gaza via Erez Crossing. When Israel failed to respond to her permit application, she decided to return to her husband and home in Gaza via Rafah Crossing (on Gaza’s border with Egypt).

Given Israel’s closure on Gaza, the young twins have never been outside of Gaza. Recently, having turned 16, they decided, with the consent and support of their parents, to move to the West Bank – where they can study and find work – as well as reunite with their mother’s side of the family.

Permit applications submitted by the twins since August 2022 to exit Gaza via Erez Crossing, and move to the West Bank, received no response from Israel. When Gisha intervened on their behalf, the Israeli authorities claimed the twins had entered Gaza without their “approval or coordination.” We reminded the authorities that the twins were just two months old when they entered the Strip via Egypt, and that, at the time, Rafah Crossing was managed by the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli authorities answered that the twins could leave Gaza via Rafah Crossing, ignoring the fact that travel through Egypt can take days, and may be dangerous – whereas their destination in the West Bank is just an hour’s drive from Erez.

Earlier this month, we filed a petition against the authorities’ foot-dragging in processing the twins’ applications, in violation of their right to freedom of movement and to return to the West Bank, the place of their birth. This week, the State Attorney’s Office decided to allow the twins to travel via Erez Crossing. They have reached the West Bank and reunited with their family. But the joy of the petition’s success is mixed with sorrow: Restrictions Israel imposes on Palestinians’ travel mean that now that they have reached their destination, the twins must live apart from their parents in Gaza, with no way of knowing when they will be able to see each other again.