Back to Gaza

After their marriage, in 2004, Hanan (real name withheld) moved to the Gaza Strip to live with Basem (real name withheld). She was born and raised in Israel. He was born and raised in Gaza. In 2007, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, and Hanan decided to move back to Israel. Basem had to stay behind. Israel will not allow Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip who are married to Israelis to settle in Israel. The couple had three children. They were raised in Israel by their mother, while their father lived in Gaza, about an hour’s drive away, but unable to enter Israel, and therefore, unable to see them grow. The middle daughter met her father only three or four times, during the first seven years of her life. Their youngest daughter, aged 4, has only met him once.

Over the last seven years, the family was able to get together on very few occasions, in Taba in the Sinai Desert. These encounters were possible only while Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt was open and Basem could leave the Gaza Strip. But, since 2013, the crossing has been closed more frequently and Hanan’s and Basem’s encounters have become rarer. When HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual filed a court petition on behalf of Hanan, who asked for a permit that would allow her to live in Gaza with her husband, Israel refused to allow her into Gaza (under the divided families procedure (Hebrew)) due to a security preclusion.

In recent years, Hanan has lost hope. In the summer of 2013, for instance, travel via Rafah Crossing was significantly reduced. When the crossing was completely shut down about two months ago, she was certain she would not be able to see her husband again and that her children would not see their father. A meeting of all family members in Gaza or Israel has been impossible for years, and now the option of seeing each other outside of Israel or the Strip had also been taken away, again.

In December 2014, Hanan contacted Gisha. We sent an application to the Gaza DCO, seeking her entry into Gaza under the divided families procedure (Hebrew). According to the procedure, an Israeli citizen who is married to a Gaza resident may enter Gaza and remain in it, subject to stay permits issued by the military commander. After we sent the COGAT a document verifying Hanan’s and Basem’s marriage, her entry was approved. In less than two months after Gisha made the application, she was reunited with her husband after a long separation. The three children will now be able to see their father, and even grow up with him, after many years of being apart.