Report by Human Rights Watch: The freeze on the Palestinian population registry has led to families being torn apart and restrictions on access to livelihood and education

February 7, 2012: On February 5, 2012, Human Rights Watch published a new report entitled “Forget About Him, He’s Not Here”. According to the report, Israel’s control of the Palestinian population registry has led to families being torn apart, jobs being lost and education opportunities being missed. It has also limited Palestinians’ ability to leave and enter the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel's control of the population registry has a tremendous impact on freedom of movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since 2000 and the start of the Second Intifada, Israel has almost completely stopped processing requests for registration of spouses and changes of residency status. As a result, many Palestinians have been unable to choose their place of residence, as well as take up opportunities for study and work. So, for example, Israel has removed Palestinians whose registered address is in Gaza from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, even if they have been living in the West Bank for years. Palestinians from Gaza who marry residents of the West Bank cannot move to the West Bank to live with their spouses and tens of thousands of Palestinians have remained without identity cards.

Most recently, as part of a package of gestures extended to the Palestinians in February 2011, Israel committed to update the addresses of 5,000 residents of the West Bank who were registered as Gaza residents. Until now, just over half of the promised address changes, approximately 2,755 individuals, have been notified of the intention to change their address. Since a change of address is subject to a lengthy bureaucratic procedure, not all those whose names were included in the gesture have actually had their addresses changed in practice.