Following legal battle by Gisha, Israel agrees to allow 5-year-old Adam Hemo to return to the West Bank with his mother and siblings

On July 14, Israel notified Gisha that it had granted 5-year-old Adam Hemo’s request to move to the West Bank, where his mother was born, subject to his mother and siblings undergoing another security screening.

Adam’s mother, Kawthar, was born in Kfar Malik in the West Bank and moved to Gaza in 2000 following her marriage to a resident of the Strip. In 2012, she updated the addresses of her four older children in the population registry to West Bank addresses, in keeping with her own. Adam, the youngest, is the only one of her children who Israel refused to register with a West Bank address.

Since February 2017, Kawthar has been trying to obtain a permit from Israel that would allow her to move back to the West Bank with her children. Israel had agreed to allow her and the four oldest children to exit the Strip, but not Adam. So for over two years, the family has waited for Israel to allow them to move to the West Bank and continued living in Gaza against their choice.

In May 2017, Gisha filed a petition on behalf of both Kawthar and Adam. The state claimed that the child, three years old at the time, must first submit an application for “settlement in the West Bank.” In January 2019, after Kawthar’s family in the West Bank tried to submit the application on behalf of Adam only to be repeatedly turned away by the relevant authorities, Gisha filed another petition with the Jerusalem District Court.

Israeli members of Knesset Aida Touma-Sliman and Ofer Cassif, from Hadash, and Heba Yazbak from Balad sent letters to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), urging Israel to allow Adam to move to the West Bank along with his mother and four siblings.

Amira Hass, who has followed Adam and Kawthar’s story, reported that: “Gisha said they hope Adam will celebrate his sixth birthday this summer, on August 18, in the West Bank with his mother and all his siblings. ‘It is regrettable that it required a long legal battle to allow it,’ Gisha said. ‘Israel’s control of the Palestinian population registry has been used to violently disrupt the lives of Palestinians, and as was proved in this case too, without any connection to security needs.'”