Following Gisha’s intervention, Israel allows Gaza lawyer to travel in order to participate in a conference on children’s rights

Israel refused to allow a lawyer to exit Gaza for a conference on Palestinian children’s rights held in Nablus. The refusal was retracted only following intervention by Gisha: Mirfat Nahal has been a lawyer with the AlMezan Center for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip for some six years. Al Mezan is dedicated to promoting human rights and democracy in the Gaza Strip.
Adv. Nahal, who has been involved in defending human rights and children’s rights for a number of years, received an invitation to attend the Ninth National Children’s Conference on Palestinian children’s rights scheduled to take place October 26-27, 2011, at An-Najah University in Nablus. Adv. Nahal was asked to present a position paper entitled “Children – Justice and Youth Law”. The conference was held by Defense for Children International (DCI), an international NGO with 40 national sections whose mission is to promote children’s rights and fight against child labor and exploitation, violence against children, sexual abuse of children and more.
Adv. Nahalfiled an application in late Septemberwith the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committeeto travel to the West Bank in order to attend the conference. On October 16, 2011, she was told her request had been denied by Israel. The next day, Gisha sent an urgent letter to the Gaza District Coordination Office requesting thatAdv. Nahal be permitted to travel to the conference. In its letter, Gisha emphasized that the knowledge Adv. Nahalwould acquire at the conference would enable her to better promote children’s rights in Gaza, thereby helping to improve the humanitarian condition of all children in the Strip. Gisha stated that considering this, allowing Adv. Nahal to travel to the West Bank would be in line with Israel’s policy of granting permits to travel in "humanitarian"circumstances.
On October 24, 2011, the Gaza DCO notified Gisha that Adv. Nahal’s request had been approved. She left Gaza the following day and attended the conference.
Israel’s initial refusal of Adv. Nahal’s application was part of its general policy of limiting travel between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This policy prevents Gaza-basedprofessionals from traveling to the West Bank to attend conferences and training seminars. According to Adv. Nahal: “As a result of Israel’s prolonged closure, human rights organizations in Gaza feel isolated from anything that happens outside the Gaza Strip, which makes it difficult for them to do their jobs properly and to develop. Staying in touch with colleagues and organizations outside Gaza is essential for our continued work”.