Gisha’s work leads to expansion of criteria for entry into Gaza: Grandparents and grandchildren with Israeli citizenship will be able to visit relatives in Gaza

As previously reported, on September 26, 2017, Gisha contacted the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) with a request to change the criteria for entry of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship into the Strip. Gisha demanded that the sweeping ban on entry of grandparents to attend their grandchildren’s weddings in Gaza be rescinded, as well as the reverse prohibition on entry of grandchildren with Israeli citizenship to visit their grandparents in Gaza.

The ban was introduced in March 2016, in COGAT’s “Status of Authorizations” document, which stated that grandparents were not considered “immediate relatives” of their own grandchildren and therefore would not be allowed into Gaza to visit them.

At the same time, a petition was filed with the High Court in the matter of grandparents who sought to enter Gaza for their grandson’s wedding. The petition was deleted after their application was approved. With regards to the general arguments against the ban, the state noted that the matter would be addressed separately.

On November 11, 2017, a new “Status of Authorizations” document was published, stating: “With respect to exit by Israelis to the Gaza Strip, inasmuch as the purpose of the visit is attending a wedding/funeral, or another exceptional case approved individually, grandparents will be considered immediate relatives” (p. 4 of the document (Hebrew)). The document further states: “Exit by Israelis to the Strip will be approved for the purpose of visiting an immediate relative/grandparent who has a serious condition posing a threat to the patient’s life or requiring prolonged hospitalization” (p. 21).

In effect, COGAT fully accepted Gisha’s position and removed the ban. Grandparents and grandchildren with Israeli citizenship will again be able to visit their relatives in Gaza – though still only in the rare case of a wedding, funeral or serious illness.