Eleven staff members of a multi-purpose center promoting the protection and empowerment of women and families receive permits to travel to the West Bank for professional training

In December 2011, the Hayat (life) Multipurpose Center for the Protection and Empowerment of Women and Families was inaugurated in Gaza. The center was opened by the Center for Women's Legal Research and Consulting (CWLRC) in Gaza in cooperation with a coalition of Palestinian and international organizations. The center provides assistance to young women and children who are victims of gender-based violence. The center also works to prevent family violence and serves as a shelter for battered women.

Given that this is the first shelter of its kind in the Gaza Strip, its staff required professional development and training. Eighteen of the center’s employees requested to travel to the West Bank for training and professional development at the Mehwar Center, a women’s shelter in Beit Sahour.

Gisha recommended that the center’s management submit a request for travel to the West Bank for the purpose of professional development on behalf of the staff to the Palestinian Civilian Affairs Committee. In parallel and with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UN WOMEN), one of the partners that established the center, on April 23, 2012, Gisha wrote to the Israeli army's Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO), emphasizing in its letter the great benefit the center offers to Gaza’s population in general, and to women and children who are victims of violence in particular, and noting that undermining the operation of a shelter of this kind could cost lives. Gisha asked that the staff members be allowed to travel without haste and avoiding the intervention of the court, noting that the court would undoubtedly understand the need for the training and the clear humanitarian nature of the application.

Despite that fact that Palestinian residents of Gaza are rarely granted permission to remain in the West Bank for extended periods of time, on May 6, the Gaza DCO informed us that most of the staff members had been approved for travel for the duration of the 3-week training session. However, the center’s four security guards and the housemother did not receive travel permits. The DCO claimed that their training in the West Bank was not necessary. The Gaza DCO also summoned three members of the center’s staff for a "security talk". The DCO refused to allow one of the staff members, who did arrive for the talk, to travel. It also denied the request of another staff member, with whom it did not arrange a time to meet.

On May 14, 11 staff members went to the West Bank for training, after which they returned to Gaza to serve its population.