Updates

Residency & family separation

Najah al-Katnani was born in al-Jalazun refugee camp in the West Bank. In 1975 she married and moved to Gaza City with her husband. At the time, she and her family could travel freely between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. After the first intifada, Israel imposed restrictions on such passage. The restrictions were tightened after the second intifada, and Israel now permits passage only in “humanitarian cases.” Gaza residents are prevented from visiting their relatives in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel.

Najah al-Qatnani in her home in Gaza City. Photo: Olfat al-Kurd, B'Tselem, 2 Aug. 2017
October 3

Israel has restricted Palestinian movement between the West Bank and Gaza since the 1990s, more severely so since blockading Gaza in 2007. Visits are permitted only to immediate family under narrow criteria deemed “humanitarian”; even then, only some 25% of requests are approved. Israel has shirked responsibility for the extreme implications of its decade-long blockade on Gazans. It must respect the right of all West Bank and Gaza residents to family life and freedom of movement between the two areas, which are a single territorial unit.

Women wait on Palestinian side of Erez Checkpoint to be allowed into Israel. Photo by Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 28 Feb. 2017
February 28

Since 2010, Israel has severely restricted access to the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa, which lies northwest of Jerusalem, in order to prevent Palestinians from entering Jerusalem. Instead of building the Security Barrier along the Green Line in the area, Israel has chosen to deny villagers a normal routine, resulting in severe effects on employment, education, basic services and communal ties. The choice to impose these draconian measures reflects absolute prioritization of Israeli interests over the protection of local residents’ rights.

The village of Beit Iksa. Photo: Arij GIS unit, 21 Feb. 2011
August 17

B’Tselem Executive Director El-Ad in an op-ed in +972 Magazine: Netanyahu recently proposed that Israel revoke the residency status of tens of thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem who live beyond the Separation Barrier. This appalling idea will merely continue what is already in motion: years of ‘quiet transfer’ and a decade of isolating the Palestinian neighborhoods east of the Separation Barrier

Palestinian children from Shu'fat refugee camp walk towards an Israeli checkpoint on their way to schools in other parts of East Jerusalem
November 3

On 22 Jul. 2015 the HCJ okayed deportation of Nadia Abu al-Jamal and her 3 children from their E. J’alem home as punishment for an attack her husband perpetrated. The justices denied the petition filed by NGO HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual on behalf of Abu al-Jamal. Deportation would not have been possible had not successive Israeli governments, with the approval of the HCJ, created an impossible reality in Jerusalem that forced Abu al-Jamal to live as a stranger in her husband’s home, in a spot not far from her childhood home. The two homes had been a part of the same community until Israel occupied the area and split it up.

Nadia Abu al-Jamal and her children. Photo: courtesy of the family
July 29

Since the Nov. 2014 attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in which Palestinians killed four worshippers and wounded seven, the authorities have threatened punitive action against the assailants’ families: demolition of the homes and deportation the wife of one of them, Nadia Abu al-Jamal. She and her children may be cut off from family and friends and denied many official services. The children would lose their state health insurance. Israel must stop punitive measures against family members who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Nadia Abu al-Jamal and her children. Photo: courtesy of the family
June 18

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday (22 November 2014) that he plans to promote a bill which would revoke the residency status and social security benefits of individuals who commit terrorist attacks or other serious offenses from nationalistic motives and their families. incoming Minister of Interior, Gilad Erdan, has revoked the permanent residency status of the man who drove the perpetrator of the suicide attack at the Dolphinarium nightclub in Tel Aviv in 2001, to the site of the attack. Residency status and social security benefits are not a favor or boon granted by the authorities. It is Israel’s fundamental obligation toward all individuals living in its territory, be they citizens or permanent residents.

November 23

Noam Rabinovich's comic strip was inspired by the testimony of Maha Hijawi, an interior designer who owns an engineering company in Nablus, where she lives with her husband and children. The testimony was included in the report "So Near and Yet So Far", which describes Israel's isolationist policy towards the Gaza Strip. B'Tselem entrusted five women illustrators with the stories of five women who appear in the report. This is the fourth graphic interpretation in the series. The fifth will be uploaded in the near future.

Illustration: Noam Rabinovich's
April 8

The recently published report So Near and Yet So Far by HaMoked and B’Tselem presents Israel's policy of isolating the Gaza Strip. The policy results in a forced separation between families. Women are torn between their life with their husband and children and their longing to see the family into which they were born, whom they are rarely allowed to meet. In a unique project, B’Tselem entrusted five women illustrators with the testimonies of five women. The project was completed as International Women’s Day (8 March) approaches.

March 6

Orit Arif's comic strip was inspired by the testimony of Maisoun Haj ‘Ali, who lives in Gaza with her four children, while her husband works in the West Bank. The testimony was included in the report "So Near and Yet So Far", which describes Israel's isolationist policy towards the Gaza Strip. B'Tselem entrusted five women illustrators with the stories of five women who appear in the report. This is the fifth and last graphic interpretation in the series.

Illustration: Orit Arif'
March 3

Julia Lind's comic strip was inspired by the testimony of ‘Abir Sharaf, a social worker from Nablus. The testimony was included in the report "So Near and Yet So Far", which describes Israel's isolationist policy towards the Gaza Strip. B'Tselem entrusted five testimonies with five female Illustrators, whose interpretations will be presented here in the coming weeks.

Illustration: Julia Lind
February 25

Nibal Mghari, who lives in Gaza with her husband and children, and her mother, who lives in Jenin, describe the pain and longing of being cut off from each other. A report by HaMoked and B’Tselem explores Palestinians’ right to family life in view of Israel’s isolationist policy, which practically prohibits passage between Gaza and the West Bank, thereby severing families and keeping tens of thousands of people from living normally. Basic features of life–building a family, living with one’s spouse and children and regular contact with the extended family–become a pipedream.

Nibal Mghari, Still from video.
January 20

The report explores Palestinians’ right to family life in view of Israel’s isolationist policy, which practically prohibits passage between Gaza and the West Bank, thereby severing families and keeping couples from living normally, if one spouse is from Gaza and the other from the West Bank. Tens of thousands face this impossible reality, whereby Israel intrudes on the most intimate aspects of life. Basic features of life–building a family, living with one’s spouse and children and regular contact with the extended family–become a pipedream.

Woman waiting at Erez Crossing at Gaza-Israel border, Oren Rosenfeld, 19 March 2009
January 19

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are classed as “permanent residents”, a status usually accorded to foreign nationals wishing to live in Israel and which can be revoked relatively easily. Indeed, since 1967, Israel has revoked the permanent residency status of over 14,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. The revocation was part of a politically-driven policy aimed at maintaining the “demographic balance” of a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, by increasing the number of Jewish residents and minimizing the number of Palestinian residents. Most Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have no legal status anywhere else in the world. Consequently, Palestinians whose status is revoked on grounds of having lived – or having allegedly lived – at least seven years abroad or elsewhere in the West Bank, are left with no legal status whatsoever. Status revocation also means that they must relocate to places outside of East Jerusalem or else remain in it illegally. In contrast, Jewish citizens of Israel will not lose their legal status even if they live outside of Jerusalem for many years.

Residents in East Jerusalem. Illustrative Photo: Ammar Awad, Rueters.
August 18

40,000 to 50,000 individuals currently live in the Gaza Strip without ID cards recognized by Israel, nor do they have any official status elsewhere in the world. Some of them were born in the Gaza Strip but were never recognized as residents by Israel: some fled the Gaza Strip during the 1967 war, or left Gaza for various reasons after 1967 and later returned. A small number were born in the Gaza Strip and have never left it, but do not have ID cards for various reasons. Israel, which still controls the Palestinian Population Registry, must allow all stateless individuals in Gaza to obtain status.

Illustration: Noam Rabinovich, B'Tselem
July 23

Israel is acting to forcibly transfer four Palestinian politicians affiliated with Hamas from East Jerusalem. Israel revoked their permanent resident status in 2006, for the first time using grounds of disloyalty to the state.

Photo: Reuters.
July 18

On 21 April '10, Israel deported Ahmad Sabah from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip after he completed a 9-year prison sentence. His wife and 9-year-old son did not get to see him. Sabah, who has no family in Gaza, awaits permission to return to his family.

May 30

The order may be used against Gazans living for years in the West Bank while Israel has refused to update their address, and against foreign citizens married to West Bank residents whom Israel has denied family unification.

April 22

Yesterday Israel forcibly transferred Ahmad Sayeed Sabah to Gaza with no judicial review. Sabah has resided in the West Bank for the past 15 years and his now separated from his wife and child. The move comes after official promises not to deport anyone from the West Bank to Gaza.

April 22

Issa Misac, a Christian resident of Gaza, and his fiancee, a resident of Bethlehem, planned to marry in April '09, yet Israel refuses to allow them to unite in either place.

December 9