A group of olim (immigrants) are planning a protest outside the Knesset on Tuesday afternoon against government policies preventing close family members from coming to Israel for births, weddings and other crucial life-cycle events.
There have been hundreds of cases of late in which parents and children of immigrants to Israel have requested permission to enter the country to see their loved ones for such events, but have been repeatedly refused by the Population and Immigration Authority of the Interior Ministry due to coronavirus regulations.
The protesters will form a line of brides and pregnant women from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Knesset at 14:30, and will then gather in the Rose Garden opposite the Knesset.
In one case, Daniella Morgado, 40, who emigrated to Israel from Chile seven years ago, is pregnant with her first child but is suffering from various complications and is considered a high-risk pregnancy.
Her parents have been applying for entry permits since the beginning of March to come and help their daughter but have been refused by the Population and Immigration Authority 12 times.
Morgado, whose due date for delivery has already passed, has limited movement and shortness of breath due to the complications in her pregnancy, and will be in need of physical assistance after the birth.
Neither Morgado nor her husband have any close family in Israel.
A further problem is that as of Monday, the Chilean government is closing its borders as part of its measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morgado’s parents, who are both vaccinated, therefore decided to get on a flight to Israel via Paris last night, in the hope that they will somehow be allowed to board the flight from Paris to Tel Aviv later on Monday and obtain an entry permit at Ben-Gurion Airport.
“It is very stressful, trying to get an answer, trying to understand what I am doing wrong,” said Morgado.
“Both my parents are fully vaccinated, they have health insurance, but there is no one to ask, no one to explain, nothing, just a wall.
“It is very difficult to feel supported. We feel very, very lonely, it’s super sad.”
Nicole Grubner, one of the organizers of Tuesday’s protest and an expectant mother whose parents have also been denied entry permits, said it was unreasonable not to allow relatives of immigrants into the country for such crucial events.
“At this point, the country has opened up, students are returning, Israelis can go wherever they want and return at leisure. It’s simply wrong and inhumane to prevent our families from coming for good reasons and we are demanding government action,” said Grubner.
“We, as olim, have sacrificed so much to make aliyah and are contributing to the country in meaningful ways. We want our voice heard.”
Former MK Dov Lipman, who has worked for months to help families of immigrants and immigrants themselves to enter the country in the face of the government’s draconian entry policies, said similarly that the needs of olim must be recognized.
“I hope that as the prime minister’s motorcade drives him to his office and to the Knesset that he will notice the brides in their wedding dresses and the pregnant women along the side of the road,” said Lipman.
“I hope he will internalize that he has the power to change the government’s policy and allow their parents and immediate families to attend their weddings. I hope he will allow parents to be with their daughters when they give birth. It’s not enough to pay lip service to supporting aliyah. It’s time to also recognize the needs of these new olim and allow their families to be with them in their times of joy and need.”
MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh, who has also been active in assisting immigrants and their families gain entry to Israel, noted that through the Knesset Aliyah and Absorption Committee she and others had successfully lobbied to extend exceptions criteria to include olim who were due or had given birth as well as the parents of lone soldiers and young women doing civil service to the list of those able to enter the country.
"Since then, I have raised the issue at every committee possible and through direct appeals and letters to relevant ministers, calling for the reinstatement of the criteria we had created as a first step, and highlighting the imperative to create mechanisms to recognize Olim and foreigners that have been vaccinated or have recovered,” she said.
The Population and Immigration Authority has said in response that criteria for applying for entry permits are “transparent to everyone” and available online, adding that “the policy of the government is still for limited entry for foreign nationals into Israel,” due to the coronavirus pandemic.