Gisha files two petitions against the Ministry of Interior

Caption: Family unification is only available in Gaza. Erez Crossing. Photo: Nuriya Oswald

Caption: Family unification is only available in Gaza. Erez Crossing. Photo: Nuriya Oswald

June 8, 2015. Gisha filed two principled High Court petitions this morning regarding two different Ministry of Interior operating procedures.

The first petition (Hebrew) seeks to have section C(2) of a Ministry of Interior procedure on changing marital status in the population registry revoked.

The protocol currently allows registry clerks to change the marital status of an Israeli citizen who marries a foreign national to “under review” (instead of “married”) for a period of six months, ostensibly, to allow an examination into the authenticity of the marriage. At the end of the six-month period, the status automatically changes to “married”, even if the authenticity of the marriage has not been examined. This protocol applies to all Israeli citizens who marry foreign nationals, but has a particularly deleterious effect on citizens who marry Gaza residents, since without the “married” status, they cannot receive a permit to enter the Strip. Israel currently does not allow Gaza residents who marry Israelis to unite with their spouses in Israel, leaving family unification in Gaza as the only available option, and the Ministry of Interior protocol delays the ability to do so by six months. The petition named the Ministry of the Interior and the Population Registry Clerk as respondents.

The second petition (Hebrew) seeks that the court instruct the Ministry of Interior to publish a protocol on entry from Gaza into Israel by Israeli citizens, or an interim arrangement for such entry. Though the ministry told the court that it would publish such a protocol back in 2013, no such protocol governing entry by Israelis from Gaza to Israel has been published to date. Hence, information regarding their identification and how they may obtain passports, as well as registration of children of Israeli citizens and Israeli citizens that do not appear in the population registry is not available to the public.

Under existing circumstances, the basic rights of Israeli citizens, primarily the right to enter the country of citizenship, are violated, and sometimes completely denied. Many are not aware of their rights as Israeli citizens, and others require intensive legal assistance and have to undergo proceedings that can last many months, just to be able to return to their country of citizenship or to obtain official documentation. Without a clear, publically available procedure, these violations stand to continue.