Jerusalem District Court rules in favor of Gisha, ordering Israel to facilitate the return of three Gaza residents stranded abroad

Image: Amana and Hamad Kahil. Photo from Haaretz.

August 5, 2020. Following a petition (Hebrew) filed by Gisha on behalf of three Gaza residents stranded abroad, the Jerusalem District Court ordered Israel to facilitate their return to their homes and families in the Strip via Allenby Bridge Crossing, even in the absence of coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Two of the petitioners, Hamad and Amana Kahil, aged 70 and 66, exited Gaza in early February to visit their son, who is studying in the United States. They have been waiting in Jordan for more than a month for Israel to issue them a permit that will allow them to return to Gaza via Allenby Bridge Crossing and Erez Crossing. The third petitioner, Iyad Karnaz, a psychologist,  traveled to Tunisia last September to complete his PhD studies. Without a permit from Israel to enter the Strip via Erez, he cannot even board a flight to Jordan.

Israel had refused Gisha’s requests to enable the three to return to the Strip from Jordan, citing the PA’s decision to halt coordination with Israel, which has been in effect since mid-May in response to the Israeli government’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank. An appeal sent by Member of Knesset Heba Yazbak to Defense Minister Benny Gantz on behalf of Karnaz received no response.

In his decision (Hebrew) on the petition, Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Sobel ruled that the state must “find a way to allow the petitioners to exercise their right to return to their homes after they exited the Strip lawfully with a permit.” Judge Sobel may have put an end to the weeks of hardship endured by the Kahils and Karnaz, but countless Palestinians are still stranded in Jordan and other countries around the world because Israel is refusing to facilitate their return to Gaza, citing the halt in coordination as a pretext.

In a letter sent by Gisha to the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories this week, we demand that Israel immediately enable all Gaza residents stranded abroad to return to their homes, as a matter of basic morality and in keeping with Israel’s obligations according to international law and Israeli law. “The ability to returning to one’s home is a fundamental human right,” Gisha emphasized in the letter. “This right cannot be withdrawn for bureaucratic reasons, and the State of Israel has no right to infringe upon it using procedural excuses.”